Archive for May, 2015

John 3:1-17 God Loves us Sooo Much RSUMC 20150531

Jn3_16Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “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. “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. [NRSV]

Jesus talks about money on several occasions:

  • The lost coin,
  • giving Cesar what is Cesar’s,
  • highliting the gift of the widows copper coins,
  • selling all your possessions of the rich young ruler,
  • serving one master,
  • being content with your pay,
  • love of money being the root of all evil,
  • turning over the exchange tables at the temple for extorting grace,
  • give to the needy,
  • calculating tower building before the project begins,
  • hidden treasure is with selling everything, the pearl of great price.
  • In fact, Jesus talks about money a great deal.

Let’s look at tithing: We have a long tradition of response-giving of 10%.

  • The earliest example of giving one tenth is done by Abram (Abraham) giving 10% of the spoils of war to God and returning 90% to the loosing king. Abram says, I don’t want you to call me rich at your expense. (So much for Robert Tilton and Guuy Smiley, I mean Mr O’Steins.)
  • There is also the addition of the 3-year tithe once the temple construction begins. There are tithes for the poor, the widow, the children, the travelers in need. If we want to more literal the requirement for tithing for poor, the Levites and the temple up-keep would be more like 23-25%.  So where are we on our tithing now?
  • Take the many ministries of the United Methodist Church: We might be most familiar with the UMCOR in funding support to people in emergency disaster crisis. We have special offerings for missionaries, students higher education, clergy education, education in Africa, world/global poverty, local poverty and housing, care for native Americans, The UMW and UMM and UMYF support mission work and mission projects, We support Decatur, Mt Top, Murphy, Harps children’s homes, retirement homes for elder care, local ministries of feeding, supporting, caring, praying and clothing.

Where does tithing start and stop? Offerings, first fruits, gifts, giving, etc?

  • Q: Do we tithe for each of these? We are compelled by our hearts to directly support the feeding, clothing, comforting and supporting those in need in direct response to Jesus call to do so in scripture.
  • The physical plants, storage facility, meeting space, worship space, fellowship space, education space, and administrative space for our global, nations, regional, state, district and local ministries are much less interesting, but they are necessary to facilitate all the good we do above. We heat and cool, keep dry and safe, we gather for fellowship and worship and study places around the globe and the thousands of staff people to lead, serve, guide, facilitate and support our millions of members around the world.. all doing small parts to be the body of Christ, visible, tangible and present for a hurting and searching world.

What about giving when your heart is not in it? Give to earn or give to love?

  • Q: Do we tithe for each of these? We are called to be the church physical and present as witness, a lamp stand. The oil in the lamp, the one to light it, clean and maintain it, the one to maintain and facilitate the city on a hill.
  • What if we turned off the air/heat? didn’t have insurance? sold our building? had no paid staff, no worship space, no instruments, what if we had no overhead, it was just up to us as a group of people… What would we do to be the body of Christ, united, present and giving witness to Christ for the transformation of the world?
  • It might satisfy the passive-agressive side of our minds, for a short time, we could say, see, we don’t need all that stuff! We can save our money.
  • Q: What are we sharing our money for in the first place. Feed 5000 with out a kitchen and tables and chairs and fellowship hall? We would need a miracle! What if we had the miracle and the physical plant… could we do even more.
  • A: There must have been those who didn’t think building the first temple was a good idea because the had the old mobile tent that was vintage, historical and traditional… and David and Solomon go and get us in the building business??!!

Solution: Text: Spiritual Birth… it’s all just a building and material until the Spirit is alive through it.

  • Jesus fed the 5000 after he prayed and spirit shows up and begins to multiply the small gifts into more.
  • Jesus reminded Nick, about the time the people were wandering in the wilderness when they had no temple expenses… God told Moses to trust God heal the sick, keep the people safe from the snakes, and drawn together for God’s purpose..
  • Be faithful in the physical and open the door to spiritual things.
  • The Tithe is about intentional-planned giving. It’s not just a matter of the heart or attention. It is practice of the will and mind and heart, that God uses to grow us spiritually.
  • If money represents my labor, work, talent, skill, time and energy and I give God a regular, deliberate amount then my relationship with God is both, a) shared and b) connected, c) committed, d) intentional, e) on a track of growth and maturity.
  • If I only need God when I am interested, inspirited, entertained, or required, then I don’t have a mutual relationship. I’m only a customer/consumer. God is interested in partnership and fellowship.
  • The regular, planned, intentional gift is thought out and not a dependent on me.
  • The regular, planned, intentional tithe is a statement of faith, that God expects something of me, just as I expect something of God.

Make your tithe, your gift, your giving as planned, intentional priority.

  • God loves us so much, on purpose, intentional, as a planned gift for our benefit.
  • Who ever believes, believes in sharing life, work and love that God has show us, for ever.
  • Better start now.

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Joel 2:28 / Col 3.1 / Matt 6.33 “The Reciprocity of Generosity”

  Joel 2:28. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old mean shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (NRSV)

Colossians 3:1. Therefore if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand. (CEB)

Matthew 6:33. Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (CEB)

Dream. Draw. Desire

I suggest to you we are called to follow God’s example and be generous, extravagantly generous.

Generous 

  • Generous in our scope, our dreams and visions.
  • Generous in our trust, our reliance on Christ.
  • Generous in our heart work, our desire be the people God has created us to become. 

Garden Generousity

Foxworthy: has 147 tomatoes plants and a farm of several thousand acres hunted 400 deer.  “What do you do with all that produce? I Give it away because I can and shelter doesn’t get that kind of fresh food.”

Back story on giving: before there were churches and budgets, before there were offerings and tithes. There were people in relationship with God.

God gave us a world with everything w e needed to eat, live, reproduce, grow, mature and ultimately produce KK donuts. 

There was no offering plate, no giving statements and no church budgets. 

In this receive only relationship God gives meaning to our faith and trust by sharing the work with us. Our relationship with God is giving and receiving.. 

  • Receiving with out giving is for babies and animals
  • Giving without receiving is only mechanical and meaningless..
  • God gives us life, we give God expression
  • God gives us freedom, we give God faith and trust. 
  • We give God love and praise and God give us fellowship and purpose
  • We give God gifts and God sees our participation and interdependence. 

The people were unfaithful, self-focused and hidden /apart from God. The co sequences change where we have to share in the work and no just receive the fruit of gods labor. The labor is shared. 

Our work time energy and that converted into funds (cocoa beans/coffee beans) 

The work became shared. God’s garden. we work God garden. Not our garden, God’s.

Some where in the process when become our ministry, our money, our investment, our church, our building, our garden. 

ATTITUDE ADJUST,ENT: At a fundamental place we need to reclaim the relationship that we are the workers in gods garden. God gives us the work to share in Gods garden, this world.

The world is where God has give us to work work, share and grow in fellowship.

Dreaming So when we think of the prophet Joel talking about dreaming of God’s garden.. How small should the garden be?

As small as we can manage or as large as God can manage through us and with us?

 The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson

In the time we have what do we want to accomplish with God?

  • More worship or less?
  • (Longer sermons or shorter ones)
  • Feed more or less people
  • Clothe more children or fewer?
  • Teach faith to a handful or to hundreds?
  • Give $5, $50 or $5000, or $50,000
  • Fewer small groups, studies & classes?
  • More kids at VBS, GROW & camp?
  • More quilts or fewer?

More work is more time, money and energy.

When we think of ourselves giving ,ore to God, rather than being afraid to talks about money, what if instead it becomes a conversation about what we are sharing with God and God sharing with us.

Jesus most extravagant parable of giving is seen with miracle feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish.  

He begins with focus and Framing God’s meal, gods blessing, gods presence, gods feeding us to witness and fellowship, and when we do this there is more than enough, 12 baskets left over. 

Turn to your neighbors and tell them ONE thing you would like for us to grow or expand at RSUMC this year?

Will that take more money or less?

Drawing on a deeper account: Gods. 

Desire: mine fulfilled in Gods 
CONGREGATIONAL FEEDBACK

Dream, Draw, Desire: relationship of Extravagant Generousity
Extravagant perspective: daring to dreams and looking at life from the perspective along side Jesus..

Perspective is different when I have a job and see the link between work and pay saving investing 

We are spoiled by the 99 cent menu model. 

Fast food gives you the options to but an item for 99 cents knowing you are more likely yo buy more of the item or other items to go with them.  

But say you only by the one item. It is not enough to to satisfy hunger for 99 cents three meals a day. 

Fellowship dinner/nourishment night hunger awareness meal… Angry folk that we didn’t have enough food.  
Look at what is possible as o e who has a seat at the table with Jesus. What is too much to ask when we ask Jesus to help?
I want to do something that is going to fail if God doesn’t help. This is extravagant generosity. 
Yes it takes money and sweat equity and service and time and more but if we are looking at doing God work, God joins us with extravagant… 12 baskets left over, not filet meinion but more than our fullness. That is extravagance…
Wasteful? Mary/Martha debate
Operational core value: our goal is extravagant witness of God

But we’re so broke, where is the extra? When there doesn’t seem to be enough.. 

Review: I said last week we would take questions but I got an ear full all week long. 

What if I can’t give

What if I can’t give like I want to

What if I can’t give what God wants

What if I don’t have the money

Biblical Texts
Joel offers direction for us, as we consider our vision of the church. Vision comes about as God inspires people to prophesy, dream and have visions. What has God inspired you to envision for the coming year?
Colossians instructs us to set our hearts on things above. It is very difficult to focus our attention on God when we are distracted and overwhelmed by the cultural influences in our lives, but that is the call on our lives.
Matthew’s Gospel sets our personal and community priorities. Together in community, we help one another to seek God first in all things, to strive for righteousness, or right standing, with God.
These verses give us the starting place for understanding about supporting ministry relationship with God.

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John 15:9-17 “Friends First” RSUMC 20150510 Youth Sun Mothers Day

JesusAsFriendAs the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. [NRSV]

You are my friends. Jesus has given his life for his friends, “that’s what friends do.”

Social Media: Examine the name, the communication and promotion of our social lives. It is a commercial website. It’s purpose is to make money and to be the popularity of discussion. It would be much more helpful and accurate if the ‘friends’ on Facebook were known as “connections” or “links.” Friendship is so much more than selecting a button to indicate we are, or are not, friends. And, yet, people allow this to determine their social success and identity based on the people who have clicked a virtual button that says, “we are now FRIENDS.”

Jesus is defining friendship ask someone who shows unconditional love. Jesus loved us as friend long before we click the words, “I accept you.” “I believe in your.” Or “I want to be your friend.” Jesus’s love for us has been shown to us before we were born, through his taking our place on the cross for our brokenness and sin.

He didn’t say, “Love me first and then I will love you back.” “‘Like’ my photo and I will be your friend.” That is conditional world of social media. It is contractual and requires no love, minimal trust and relatively no commitment. Now don’t get be wrong I enjoy a fully video, a beautiful photo, or sharing an meaningful moment through social media, but it is not the measure of our friendship.

It’s a fun tool to be connected with friends, but the basis of the relationship is best not be based on the terms of FB, for as your know they change ever six months, if not sooner.

The commandment is for us to LOVE like we are loved. Friend as Jesus has friend-ed us First.

As Jesus’ friends we are Chosen and Appointed

  • To Bear Fruit in my name
  • “I want to see some love’n.”
  • Mother’s Day: For the 90 person of mothers who love unconditionally

Love God, by..

  • Loving your family
  • Love your enemy
  • Love your neighbors
  • Love the stranger/foreigner
  • Start by being friends: Start the relationship first…

It Ain’t Easy to Love

  • Christ’s friends make the first move. Show grace and forgiveness first.
  • Loving is not always easy, simply or pretty.
  • Go First, Lead by example
  • Open the door
  • Start the conversation

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John 15.1-8 “Kudsu Christians: Fruity and Connected” RSUMC 20150503

KudsuJesus“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.[NRSV]

One summer when I was suppose to be cutting back the kudsu that was threatening to take over the driveway, I began marking how fast that vine grew in a week. It seems I would cut it back to the edge of the lawn and by next Saturday it would be time to trim the vine again. So I let it grow onto the drive where where I could mark it’s growth with marks of spray paint each day. In my experiment the vine grew five feet in one week. So I begin to micro-mearsure the vine by the day and hour. After a good rain and warm sunshine following I marked two inches of growth in one hour. AMAZING!

If only the church would grow at that same rate!

Jesus gives an object lesson of “vines and branches” to describe the relationship between himself and disciples like us.

  • God is the root system.
  • Jesus is a vine.
  • We are the leaves and the fruit.

Without the roots, there would be no vine and without the vine there would be no branch nor fruit.

Our shared purpose is fruit.

What is fruit of being connected to Jesus. Society has lost sight of Jesus because they don’t see the fruit.

Tom Cruse and Cuba Gooding Jr: as Jerry Maquire and Rod Tidwell in the movie “Jerry Maquire

[Rod has just told Jerry he will keep him as his agent]

  • Jerry Maguire: That’s, that’s great. I’m very… happy.
  • Rod Tidwell: Are you listenin’?
  • Jerry Maguire: Yes!
  • Rod Tidwell: That’s what I’m gonna do for you: God bless you, Jerry. But this is what you gonna do for me. You listenin’, Jerry?
  • Jerry Maguire: Yeah, what, what, what can I do for you, Rod? You just tell me what can I do for you?
  • Rod Tidwell: It’s a very personal, a very important thing. Hell, it’s a family motto. Are you ready, Jerry?
  • Jerry Maguire: I’m ready.
  • Rod Tidwell: I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money. Oh-ho-ho! SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! A-ha-ha! Jerry, doesn’t it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.
  • Jerry Maguire: Show you the money.
  • Rod Tidwell: Oh, no, no. You can do better than that, Jerry! I want you to say it with you, with meaning, brother! Hey, I got Bob Sugar on the other line; I bet you he can say it!
  • Jerry Maguire: Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Show you the money.
  • Rod Tidwell: No! Not show you! Show me the money!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Yeah! Louder!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Yes, but, brother, you got to yell that shit!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: I need to feel you, Jerry!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Jerry, you got to yell!
  • Jerry Maguire: [screaming] Show me the money! Show me the money!

The world is coming to our door step and asking us to show them Jesus. Show them God at work. Show them the fruit of being a believer and a disciples.

How do we show them the fruit?

  • Connected Through the vine of faith
  • Connected through Jesus
  • Connected through the word

When we are connected the fruit of the work from the ROOTS, through the VINE, is visible in the  BRANCHES.

  • We have little yellow buds on our tomato plants
  • We have little green balls on our blueberry bush
  • We have wild and crazy long vine on our raspberry bush
  • There are signs of things to come BUT THERE IS NO FRUIT.

Stay Connected and the God will supply what you need through JESUS for fruit to come through US.

What kind of fruit are you in the garden?

  • Some of your are prickly on the outside, but when the joy comes out, we all see the sweetness of God at work through you.
  • Some of you are running all around the place with great busyness but you
  • Some of you stay right where you are, and bloom where you are planted
  • Some of you are sweet and delicious, just kinda fruity.
  • Some of you are prolific, others are corny.
  • Some of you seedy but you trust Grace to make you wholesome
  • Some of you use to be connected and God has done great things in the past, but somewhere along the way we let go, stopped reading/studying/living in the Word and we are feeling crusty.
  • Sometime were are a combination, a tossed salad.

Here is the morning conversation in the mirror:

  • What will the folks around me see of God’s love today?
  • What will folks here that sounds like God’s grace this day?
  • What will people know about Jesus’ gift means to me during the next 18 hours?

What will keep me from bearing fruit?

  • What will disconnect me?
  • What will I do if I fall off the wagon? What will God do if I jump?
  • What will cloud things for me, and others?
  • What does God want?

I will be your vine, you be my branches, we will bear fruit together.

Bottom line: Prayers, Study, Fellowship, Real life sharing stuff with God’s fruity people…

  • This is what we need
  • This is what the world is hungry for fruit.
  • Feed the world… the love, grace, power and word of Jesus
  • And they will be grafted into the garden.

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