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Archive for November, 2015

Luke 21:25-36 Watchfulness 20151129 Advent1 RSUMC

 

Wedding Preps are more than wedding day events“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees;  as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  [NRSV]

 

CAUTION: The Yellow Flag, the Caution triangle, the surgeon general’s official warning.

Key Verse: Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.

  • Be Alert.
  • Pray for strength
  • Be ready to stand before the Son of Man

Advent: Be Alert. The core purpose of the liturgical season of Advent is to make time and make ready our lives for Christ.

It has little to do with #redcups from #starbucks or store’s commercializing the season without the faith-based reason. It ultimately is study time before the test. It is practice driving before getting your drivers’ license. It is the work that leads up to the #retirement time we live the life unencumbered by work. (ideally)

I invite you to join in a series of mini marathons to prepare us for the full #26.2 mile race. I am not a runner at this point in my life. I learned from my DNA research that my people only have a 3% of becoming sprinters. I am certainly in the right family. But I do know that if I was going to self-propel my body in any fashion for 26.2 miles. I am not ready for the race today.

The first word of preparing in our text today is ‘Alert.’

Alertness is a willful, intentional, state of readiness to be either proactive and/or reactive to the situation and circumstances around us.

The rampant increase of acts of terror have raised our alertness to evil in the world. Paris, Mali, Chattanooga and even in our experience. We are cautioned to prepare one another to be watchful. If something is wrong or out of place, then report it, follow up on it and take the information as credible until it is disproved.

This way of daily life is stressful, and it carries the risk of being so cautious that we withdraw or cause injury to ourselves and others. The text affirms that we live in risky times. So learning how to be alert that is appropriate to the level of risk is what our insurance companies help us figure out.

Based on our experience of driving, they determine the degree of risk to cover inevitable accidents and losses we will experience. Every insurance representative would work with drivers, renters and home owners to take proactive precautions to prevent poor impact upon policy payments.

For our spiritual journey and spiritual home, we prepare in similar styles. Be preventive and proactive.

Luke and I have agreed to encourage each other in goal of loosing the same amount of weight. He is loosing muscle, I’m loosing fat. If we wait start until the end of April to meet our goals. We will surely fail.

We both agreed, let ‘s start after Christmas. With all the dinners and parties and festivities. It would be better to start when we were less tempted. But we are fooling ourselves.

Remember Jesus ministry was challenged by temptation before he told the first parable or healed the first person. We get busy in the temptation, because the nature of letting our attention and guard down opens the flood gate for failure and disappointment.

Advent. 1.a, Step one, be alert by study, fellowship, singing, exercise restraint from the thing we KNOW are not helpful. Be attentive to the building up of our spiritual self. Make our spirit the priority of each day. Not at the expense of all else, rather the priority of the day.

Advent. 1.b, Step two, pray for strength.

Wow, Jesus knows the disciples are going to find their weak points in a hurry. Not only will we get lazy and justify our physical demands replace our spiritual demands, but we will grow weary, quickly.

The preventative training is to pray.  Pick a time and work to make it your prayer time. Read the prayers of others, start with the prayers of your childhood, sit in silence as ask God to hold your thoughts and worries and simply rest in the arms of God. But start praying with the regularity with which we do important physical things. When you eat, prayer. When you rest in the room of rest, pray. When you get in the car, prayer. When you arrive at school or work or your destination, pray for what you will face. Start talking and listening to God. Listen to spiritual music, read spiritual writers, discuss spiritual topics with a desire to inform and learn rather than force others to agree. All these are forms of prayer as we offer our speaking and listening to God.

 

Advent 1.c, Step three, Be ready to stand before the Son of Man.

Keep the goal in mind. Not only be awake and proactively growing your spirit. (2016: Have every member of RSUMC involved in some spiritual growth group. 3-300, sized) Not only be talking and listening to God, encourage one another to keep the goal in mind.

Our lives our gifts of God, entrusted to us to build a relationship with God through the grace of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of the Church. When we finally have lived our life, and we stand before God. Can we say, “I want to be with you.”

It sounds crazy in a way. It seems if anyone had a chance to stand before God and say I love you our I hate you. I know you or I never really knew you. If there was sliver of opening, we would want to go with God. But the truth is that not everyone believes this to be true, or has another way of fulfillment and meaning. Some folks with stand before Christ our judge and is not interested in our excuses or laziness or business or intentions.

The text’s second warning is that difficult, terrible, and oppressive things are to come in this world: Things we will want to escape.

Be alert, be preparing, be strong , be encouraging… but do all this for what?

Jesus has come into the flesh to show and open a relationship with God. Think of your best friend. How often would you want to share

  • a meal?
  • an adventure?
  • a comment about the news or a movie?
  • or build a memory or retell an old one?
  • working through your struggles?

These are the journey points of a relationship with God. It is not just saying we are friends, it is showing it with the life, time and stuff that makes up our being.

Finally, we in a time of preparation, aimed for more than a day.

Like so many #wedding have months of planning and preparation lead toward a day, but should always be for more than that day: “That Day” may be the wedding, but it is the marriage that begins. Christmas is the season for which prepare. This is our first journey

Action Plan:

  • How am I going to keep alert my spiritual self and relationship
  • How am I going to talk and listen to God and God’s people
  • How am I going to become strong enough to finish the race.

 

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John 18.33-38 “The God’s Truth: Redundancy” 20151115 RSUMC

TruthPilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. [NRSV]

This Word is not my home, Albert Brumley, 1937  (11am)

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me, From heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do.
I have a loving mother, Just up in Glory land, And I don’t expect to stop, Until I shake her hand.
She’s waiting now for me, In heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do.
Just over in Glory land, We’ll live eternally, The saints on every hand, Are shouting victory.
Their songs of sweetest praise, Drift back from heaven’s shore, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.

Citizenship 101
King of kings and Lord of Lords reigns a spiritual world that is not measurable by the laws of physics and science.
Dual Citizenship
We are a physically citizen of the USA

We are the spiritual citizen of the Kingdom of God

The Micro-nation   (9am)

Are you not tired of politics fighting. No matter the side of the fence you choose to stand, we are over-loaded with a constant fight to destroy one another. The heart ache is based in the passions that drive our beliefs.

— The PROBLEM: If everyone would value what “I” value then there would be peace and tranquility.

There are times I’d like to make my own little nation. Tiny House phenomenon, there is a Micro Nation phenomenon.

The problem with setting up your back yard as your own country is that becomes a legal threat against the United States. It might be all in our imagination but if everyone seceded one Saturday afternoon, stopped paying taxes, stopped voting, ignored the laws, rules and regulations we disagree, the imaginary idea of our own nations would corrupt the order of our real nation.

The result would be an increase of division and a decrease of safety and peace. Most certainly, there would be more politics, WHY? Because we cannot live without each other.
Politics in Church

Sanhedrin, temple authority board/council, were threatened by Jesus, because of his popularity with the crowds.
They use the Roman politics to keep their power and support of the populace.
–Rather than talk with your neighbor you get the home owners association to act
–Rather than question if you are right or wrong, find a legal technicality to call the police or better yet sue someone.
–Find the flaw in your opponent and exploit them with the system.
–Pass the dirty job to someone other than yourself AND you get what you want.

There are valid times for legal resolutions, but not the place to start.
School board, city Council, County commissioners, Senator and representatives, presidents, emperors as well as you and me.

To the Heart of the Solution is to Define and claim: Where is my primary citizenship?

The Conversation in the text
Governor Pilate has heard of Jesus. They have a political discussion about truth.
“Ok Jesus, they are charging you with challenging the authority of Caesar,

Are you a king?”
Are you guilty of the charges

Jesus sounds a bit vague, unclear, not straightforward. “You have answered correctly in saying, “You are a king.”

Pilate races through his memory, I asked the question. I didn’t make a statement. Grrr.

Ok, Jesus, what is the truth?

Truth
We live in an age of enlighten truth, shaped by the scientific method and defined by person accent/believe and/or popular opinion and personal offense.

Is it true that someone on some college campus call a student a derogatory name? Yes.

Therefore, the entire school has a fundamental problem with racism and the leaders have to be fired.

There is a double standard

Is it true that there are more unemployed and under-employed people today compared to eight years ago? Yes it is true.

Therefore, the entire economic system has fundamental problems with economics and the leaders have to be fired.

Oh, but that not the same at all.

Jesus is saying something that was just as unpopular to Governor Deal, as it was to Governor Pilate then.

Truth is not a variable

Truth is not an opinion

Truth is not our lump of metallic ore to shape and model into our own idol.

It’s one or the other: Truth in the eyes of the beholder VS. Truth is in God!’s will.

It might the atheists right to deny God, but their disbelief doesn’t negate God’s existence and patience with them.

Using the truth, and our understanding for person or corporate political gain is the issue

If I take a standard ruler and saw off 2 inches and say that new length s a foot. Is that the truth.

The valued the dollar changes daily.  Isn’t that crazy?

Pilate passes the buck on Truth, Yet Speaks the Truth.

“I find no fault, you deal with your difference.”

A good leader is not going to pass the buck.

A good leader helps lift of the truth and stands behind that standard.

Independent of offense, popularity or opinion.

So where is our Truth?

If political majority is your guiding principles, Who made the majority of the people?

If political principle is your guiding passion, Who made of the network of the mind that things of better ways for folks to work together?

If you want everyone to be completely free to choose for themselves their own destiny? Who created freedom?

If you want to be led by the heart and compassion, Who are we called to forgive first? Those who think like we do, or our enemies?

If you want science and physics as your truth, who made the heavens and the earth?, who started the bang and ordered the science?

If you and I want to find the common ground, The Truth is God.

Even for those who deny God’s reality. God is big, tough and grace-filled enough to be TRUTH with Patience for us to trust that truth.

 

Jesus is the truth.

This is who were are. The people who believe above all else that God has always wanted to be in love and in relationship with us

Jesus is the, in the flesh example of God’s example and the means by which bridges us to God.

God’s Spirit continues to be reached out to us, drawing, inviting and welcoming the conversation.

 

Remember this if nothing else. You can talk about politics with God, but your can’t talk about God without getting to the truth of politics. We are living in God’s garden and playground.

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Mark 13.1-8 What Am I Building 20151115 RAUMC

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV] [NRSV]
What is God Building right now?

Some buildings become architectural wonders based on the grand scale of the building, the materials used in the construction and in the significance of the buildings purpose.

Jesus and the disciples are leaving the temp,e complex which was a trifecta of scale, resource and purpose. Herod’s temple complex was a collection of engineering marvels. Still visible and functioning 2000 years later are his “Ashlar” stones (building blocks/Legos). Foundation Amal course are 80 tons each and approximately 40’x8′ in size.

These are certainly the type of stones the disciples were referencing with Jesus at the temple. Jesus makes a matter-of-fact-statement about these mighty stones. Everyone will be over turned.

This small remark carries a timeless affirmation of God and struggle of humanity. No matter how much labor, ingenuity, time and craftsmanship that which is built by human hands will always also be just as corruptible as human beings.

The Good News

So what does it mean for God to put on corruptible clothes in the for and life of Jesus to reach out to us.

The temple complex included temple, palace, theater, that was double the size of King Solomon’s and there was no building complex in Rome any greater nor more lavish. Herod want Cesare to be at home when visiting the outer edge of the empire.

The instruction for disciples is to guard against those who falsely represent Jesus by placing God’s “hologram of authenticity” on their teaching.

The Core Four
Peter, James and John take Jesus aside and ask for some clear teaching
Explain this to me… For what are we preparing?

The disciples ask for a sign? What the date? When will this happen? In our life time? This week? Tonight?

Wars and terrible storms will be signs but they are only the beginning of the terrible.

The problem with “THE SIGN” as there have been wars, earthquakes and disasters of all kinds in every year…

I think Jesus’s warning in the text is much less helpful for those who want to put his return on the calendar. It is more obvious a statement without the mystery some would want to add.

When we see wars and disasters it is evidence that we living in a broken world. The sign are only the earliest signs of God’s timing.

So what do we make of the events of Paris?
It is a horrible evidence that evil is given more power than it should have.
To say that we pray for people who are victims of evil acts we not only suffer with them we also pledge to protect, defend and stop evil with good.
How long? The same question asked about the disciples then is ask again today.
God will not allow evil to forever.
God calls disciples to do the loving thing.
What is loving mean in the realities of evil…
Something has been born as is in a process of growing, struggling and maturing.
Allow God to do the building
Don’t rework the plan in your own image

Gods people prepare for God. Period.
God the architect and Jesus the carpenter are vocations that focus on structures.
What is God working to build these days?

When you hear about wars and threats f war, what does God want built?

When nations and politic fight amount themselves

When false teachers and persuasive leaders misguide their subjects

When their are earthquakes and famines all around, what needs to be developed as child develops and is born

Large stones, large buildings
What has been made by our hands is certainly perishable.
Great awesome buildings and the great buildings we have here today.

The literal context is standi outside of the temple, out side the p,ace of worship
The church is not a resting p,ace, the chug is the People of God

A popularity of non-denominational, which is suppose to refreshing. Where churches don’t compete for members and dollars. Hmm m

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Mark 13.1-8 What is Christ Building? RSUMC 20151115

AshlarStone

1 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV]

What is God Building right now?

Some buildings become architectural wonders based on the grand scale of the building, the materials used in the construction and in the significance of the buildings purpose.

Jesus and the disciples are leaving the temp,le complex which was a trifecta of scale, resource and purpose. Herod’s temple complex was a collection of engineering marvels. Still visible and functioning 2000 years later are his “Ashlar” stones (building blocks/Legos). Foundation Amal course are 80 tons each and approximately 40’x8′ in size.

These are certainly the type of stones the disciples were referencing with Jesus at the temple. Jesus makes a matter-of-fact-statement about these mighty stones. Everyone will be over turned.

This small remark carries a timeless affirmation of God and struggle of humanity. No matter how much labor, ingenuity, time and craftsmanship that which is built by human hands will always also be just as corruptible as human beings.

The Good News

So what does it mean for God to put on corruptible clothes in the for and life of Jesus to reach out to us.

The temple complex included temple, palace, theater, that was double the size of King Solomon’s and there was no building complex in Rome any greater nor more lavish. Herod want Cesare to be at home when visiting the outer edge of the empire.

The instruction for disciples is to guard against those who falsely represent Jesus by placing God’s “hologram of authenticity” on their teaching.

The Core Four

Peter, James and John take Jesus aside and ask for some clear teaching

Explain this to me… For what are we preparing?

The disciples ask for a sign? What the date? When will this happen? In our life time? This week? Tonight?

Wars and terrible storms will be signs but they are only the beginning of the terrible.

The problem with “THE SIGN” as there have been wars, earthquakes and disasters of all kinds in every year…

I think Jesus’s warning in the text is much less helpful for those who want to put his return on the calendar.  It is more obvious a statement without the mystery some would want to add.

When we see wars and disasters it is evidence that we living in a broken world. The sign are only the earliest signs of God’s timing.

So what do we make of the events of Paris?

  1. It is a horrible evidence that evil is given more power than it should have.
  2. To say that we pray for people who are victims of evil acts we not only suffer with them we also pledge to protect, defend and stop evil with good.
  3. How long? The same question asked about the disciples then is ask again today.
  4. God will not allow evil to forever.
  5. God calls disciples to do the loving thing.
  6. What is loving mean in the realities of evil…
  7. Something has been born as is in a process of growing, struggling and maturing.

Allow God to do the building

Don’t rework the plan in your own image

Gods people prepare for God. Period.

God the architect and Jesus the carpenter are vocations that focus on structures.

What is God working to build these days?

When you hear about wars and threats f war, what does God want built?

When nations and politic fight amount themselves

When false teachers and persuasive leaders misguide their subjects

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Mark 12:38-44 “Put More in the Treasury” 20151108 RSUMC

2copperCoinsAs he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” [NRSV]

Everyone who came to the temple for worship, put something in the offering.

Maybe someone does want to talk about Money at church because we have question or misinformation about “Offering” is in our practice of worship and faith. What is the offering about?

  1. What the Offering is NOT:
    1. It is not about FAIRNESS
    2. It is not admission for the SHOW
    3. It is not about TAXATION
    4. It is not EARNING salvation or favor
  2. Offering IS about
    1. a THANK YOU note
    2. a Sign of TRUST of God,
      1. How we GIVE it.
      2. How we USE it.
    3. a RESPONSE to God’s loving, blessing, saving and claiming us in GRACE
    4. an ACT of CONFESSION or retribution – Zacheaus, the wee little man, made a big act of restoration.
    5. an Investment in the work of God’s business, kingdom, witness
    6. a PRACTICE of loving. [The widow is operating on love in her giving], the greatest is love.
  3. Offering was being watched, monitored, studies by Jesus and the Disciples
    1. It is important to learn about giving patterns and styles
    2. Strings or No Strings
    3. In times of plenty and times of lean
    4. Faith in Maturity not Quantity.
  4. The witness of the POOR widow. (A widow living on the generosity of temple)
    1. Poverty is closer to us every day. (If we set aside politics and look at the reality of what actually IS currently)
    2. Gross National Product($18.1T) Fascination Debt Clock and other fiscal measurements
    3. National Debt is increasing 4154,583 per minute. ($18.6T is meaningless)
    4. Our Product to Debt ratio is $1.03. That means if we spent everything we made we would be three cents short paying everything we owe.
    5. the BEGGING QUESTION: How much in debt do you have to be to be poor?
  5. POVERTY/SCARCITY
    1. Rather than figure how what the fair level of poverty. Poverty is not having a certain level of possessions, credit or money.
  6. ABUNDANCE
    1. Rather than find a fair level of persons to blame or label as the rich or the poor. Jesus’s FOCUS is on the GIFT.
  7.  The GIFT THAT IS GREATEST is the one who was able to give the LOVE
  8. If you only have two half-pennies and you give them to God: What statement are you making?
    1. God has more to give than I have to give, I will give all I have.
  9. If you and I give out of our abundance, extra, or wealth: But not out of love, What statement are we making?
    1. God demands, we must obey
    2. God is jealous and bad stuff will happen if we don’t
    3. God will bless me if I give
    4. God will make me rich if I give it all to him.
  10. The women who gives to two coins does not
    1. does not become the most wealthy members
    2. does not stop living at the poverty level
    3. does not become the high priestess or head scribe or rabbi
    4. does not get rich off of God’s investment plan.
  11. The woman gives as an loving act of TRUST that God will provide what she needs.
  • What does my offering say to me and what does it say to God.
  • Does my gift say: I trust you? I love you? I need you most of all? I can’t make it with out you?
  • Does my gift say: I have this to spare? I can get by with this? After I manage all the choices of wealth or poverty, then I will trust, give, love.

Homework: Last week we talked about Jesus answer to the greatest commandment, the FIRST is to Love God and Love your neighbor,

We show this love in how we give to God. This what the offering is about.

Teach a child about why you give. Your child/grand-child or a friends, or even a stranger. : Explain to a child (3-63)

  • I give because I love God.
  • I give because God knows what I need.
  • I give because I am faithful will all that I have.
  • I give because I trust God with my life AND livelihood AND future..

For those who like math?

Do I spend more resource of time/money/energy on God than being a team fan?

Pull out the check book, (exclude housing, utilities, food, car, insurance) How much do I spend in the other categories compared to God?

For those who don’t like homework. (Give because you know its good in your heart and watch for the Kingdom of God to show up where you give)

For those who are legalistic, “Give until it changes your heart.” – Rich Young Ruler.

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