Archive for August, 2016
Book to the Hebrews – A Summary
There for Chapter 13 — The How-To’s of a Life of Grace
Since Jesus is with us,
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.[NRSV]
A story of URGENCY of healing, priorities, and sabbath rest.
The emergency room is filled with people who are priorities for treatment every day of the week and every hour of the night. The triage nurses are the first line of identifying the balance of severity of need with the available space and equipment for treatment.
The woman of the text has perplexed doctors and rabbis nearly two decades had been seeking healing without relief. The community was very likely calloused to the condition of a woman, bleeding, chronically. She was at the third strike. She was frustrated and hopeless and so were the caregivers and community.
The first question that Jesus poses to the faithful crowd and leaders is this: “Which is more important: Healing or Rules?” Live without rules is chaotic. Life without healing is a miserable life.
What is most important to me? To God? To the woman? To the authorities? to the community? etc.
Where is the urgency with an 18 year condition? What’s one more day?
Answer: God who made the rules can amend and bend and complete the law/rules.
Healing brought the woman into the heart of the community and that became more urgent.
The second question is a variation of the first: “Does God care more about the law or caring for the people God created?”
It has an obvious answer. It gives perspective to the when we follow the rule and when we break the law. Should you never speed while driving? No, rushing someone to the emergency room who has a critical need would not be expected to sit in traffic and wait for red lights to change, BUT when we do break the rules we need to pay greater attention to our surroundings.
We live in a society where major groups of people act without thinking, and we send law enforcement persons to into situations where people who are calloused to the law and bring anger and anarchy into the urgency that chaos brings.
Answer: Who is setting the priorities? God or the administrators of God’s representatives? Some would say just follow the laws. But when folks are disregarding the law we have to become hyper aware of the circumstances.
We live in a 24/7 society that has lost the power of walking with God in the Garden of Eden.
The Sabbath rest vs Sabbath rules Rules over healing on the sabbath vs healing.
The heart of the passage helps us re-frame what the sabbath means to us and for us.God has created us to spend time together. If the rules and law keep us from finding time with God then the law is in the way. But it is more often the case that we use the law to our advantage.
Let’s do our church stuff on Sunday and the rest of the week is our own. Instead of all that I do, I do with God’s help and guidance and mercy and forgiveness and Sabbath is the time after dinner and before bedtime. Just talking, sharing, listening and being together.
This passage is another where we see some of Jesus’s frustration, “You make caring for your animals/transportation on the sabbath, but you don’t heal with is obviously more important and in need of the greatest attention.
The healing on the sabbath glories God; it reminds us that God is working with us, and it reminds us what/who is most important to God.
The Priorities shift, of what time is God’s time and who we live and work for is where we go astray. What is God’s priority vs what is my priority. (even if they over lap, God’s priority comes first.)
ACTION PLAN: 24/6 lifestyle. work hard and rest hard… give up off the sofa and study the bible. Change your comfort and habits to make more time for God. Turn off the bad news and retell the good news, to remember where are priorities are when we go back to work/etc.
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
The Work of Rest
- Take off your shoes, get comfortable walking on holy ground… as opposed to keeping the floor clean.
- Take off your traveling shoes and stay awhile
- Take off your work shoes and rest
- Take off your athletic shoes and rest from striving to win.
Joy is Found in the Holy Places
- Camp Glisson
- Buckeye Creek
- Prayer Closet
- Altar Rail
- In Songs,
- Spiritual moments and memories
The 3rd Rule of Methodism
Practice your piety. not Pie-eating
The Question for tonight: What are you doing to seek the holy JOY of the Lord?
Don’t just tease God on Sunday morning, spend time dwelling all day, wherever you are.
Practice hunting for Joy: Not everyone finds because not everyone is searching.
Practice naming and claiming Joy: Pokemon Go model of not only seeking but capture for later use.
Practice offering Joy to one another in the face of our obstacles. Fear, Grief, Guilt, Apathy, Ignorance, Greed, Shame, etc.
Setting a new Millstone for Joy (Commitment time)
Where will I look for Joy: Sunday school, new small group or study, personal study, a journal
How will I stay connected to Joy: Will I stay in God’s word and songs? Will I start the conversations? Will I use the post its’
Where will I begin sharing Joy each day: It is a USE it or LOOSE it power. Keep it ready, keep it handy, keep it alive.
Joy is not forced upon us, but it ours through Jesus Christ who died and lives for us: Our greatest Joy.
Matthew 18:6 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Mark 9:42 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.
Luke 17:1-2 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a man with white hair seated across the table in the fellowship hall began choking on his food. His wife was patting his back and calling his name. “Someone call 911!”, she shouted. I knew he could not wait for the EMT’s to arrive and began moving to reach around his midsection to start the Heimlich maneuver. I made a firm grip and began to press in on his diaphragm hoping to dislodge a small portion of this lunch that was blocking his airway. I tried repeatedly without success. Occasionally small amounts of air would go in, but none would go out. Whatever was stuck would not budget. The EMT’s arrived and began using what looked like a plastic hook into his throat. After pulling and prodding, our came a piece of cauliflower and in and a rush of expended air. Not every obstruction is life threatening, but most are small.
What might possibly block or interfere with finding JOY?
- Grief: When we are saddened by the loss of love and loved ones we might not want to celebrate their faithful reward. Our attention is more drawn to our hurt and need. Grief is a process that is to journey through, but when will not allow room for JOY we begin to be stuck in the full muck of grief’s emptiness.
- Fear: Fear of being rejected, fear of the unknown, fear of the all-to-familiar anxieties in life wear down our patience and willingness to trust. We give into fear and close the door on JOY.
- Pain: Physical and emotional pain demand our attention now, and chronic pain steals our attention. JOY takes back seat to the immediate call for comfort. The desire to quench that demanding hurt does not want to wait nor work for JOY. We push JOY aside for those moments.
- Lack of Information: Sometimes we forget to draw on the JOY of Christ or we don’t think that God knows or cares. Reminding someone to seek JOY through the Spirit is not our first suggestion.
- The Law: Some folks are rule followers and their value for keeping assumes there are times that JOY is not to be tapped into. “No running in the church.” “Don’t get your clothes dirty.” “Don’t interrupt.”
- Lack of Experience: Some folks have experienced so little JOY they don’t recognize what it is or when it is most needed. [ Parish Trip vs Watchnight Service ]
What is JOY?
- Joy is the comfort of being safely back home
- Joy is the assurance that we have another day to practice tomorrow
- Joy is belonging to the herd
- Joy is being happy being the self God created you to be
- Joy is walking on the water with Jesus (Feeding the hungry and seeing the face of Jesus)
- Joy is doing one small thing that makes a giant difference in someone’s life.
- Joy is sharing goodness and seeing it bloom in someone’s heart.
- Joy is the source of our happiness.
- Joy is God working in our lives: past, present and future.
Orbiting the Hairball <Gordon MacKenzie>
A fun book about Gordon’s work culture at Hallmark. His job called for creativity in a corporate machine that had little interest in the JOY of being creative. To Hallmark, the goal was to make money and success for the those in the company and the investors. The products of Hallmark are intended to sell heartfelt greeting cards and special objects of memory-keeping. In reality, the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing and it was a depressing place to work, Gordon reports. He describes an occasion where we visited schools trying to instill creativity in students and found those in Kindergarten had great creative ideas and an extremely high desire to share ideas. Half as many in first grade; by third grade only a few and by 5th grade, only one or two per class. By high school, no one would talk to him or share their work or ideas.
The same is true of JOY. We become calloused when others tell us what we cannot do, should not do or become, we develop into the lowest common denominator experience of JOY that related to possessions and celebrations.
What Is the Worst Obstacle of Joy?
It is a spiritual doubt/questioning:
When we experience fear, pain, ignorance, rules, grief and other factors of life,
we believe that these things are greater than the God who made us and
stronger than the God who loves us.
They are closer than the God who died for us and
more tangible than the God who Spirit is always with us.
Getting Un-Stuck of Millstones
A: They have to be untied or they will weigh us down and eventually drown us.
Naming the Obstacles and giving them to God. [ Writing Assignment : using paper to confess/offer to God our obstructions to JOY]
Excited visions of what can be and will be
Seeing the best and celebrating the JOY in others
Turning to God rather than blame, look for excuses, begin to fear, lead with our doubts and pain.
YOU JUST A JAR OF JOY
I’m Going to take you off the shelf spread you all around.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while, we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [NRSV]
Just Only John
As a child, one of the books my parents gave me was a juvenile work, a story about a little boy named John. The boy dreams of all the other things he might want to be, except for being himself. He choices to be someone other than himself left him alone, afraid, and uncertain anything but joyful when he had the choice to be himself again he chose to be Just only John, (the title the book.)
Our Look at Joy
This week I offer you a perspective on
- our Source of Joy,
- Obstacles of Joy and
- Yourself as a Joyful person
Ask your neighbor: Do you see Joy in me tonight?
🎼 I’ve got the Joy, Joy! Joy, Joy, down in my heart, where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart, I’ve got the Joy, Joy! Joy, Joy, Down in my heart, to stay.
Lost Down in my Heart…
The truth is that we are not always joy-filled people. Sometimes we live without the power of Joy.
Just because we don’t find the Joy doesn’t mean it is not there, or here
The camp/ VBS song we sing is sometimes the truest picture that Joy is so deep down that we lose grasp of it
Joy comes in the morning
Psalm 30.5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.[RSV]
Joy is something to seek to find, wait to receive, anticipate until it is enjoyed, AND shared until Christ returns.
Will the Real Joy Stand Up
Joy comes from God through Justification.
Justification is a good Methodist Work describing what Jesus has done for us through work of grace in the cross and power of the resurrection.
Jesus makes it right.. from the song/hymn, “Have a little talk with Jesus”
Eternal Joy is made By God, Through Jesus and shared by the Holy Spirit.
We might not use Justification as a theological term that often,
But we are fully away of how to justify our actions and in-actions in the world.
Problem with just only John
The problem of the lesson I learn about the childhood book I mentioned earlier is that most of the time I attempt to find joy, peace and meaning from my choices. my justifying thug d brings temporary joy
- I will be joyful when I finish school
- I will be joyful when I get a house
- I will be joyful when I get a job
- I will be joyful when I marry
- I will be joyful when I retire
- I will be joyful when I win the lottery
The implication is that I will not have joy until these come to pass, and if they don’t I don’t know where my joy comes from?
Finding the Joy.
We live in a stressful, frustrating world filled with division, fighting, and fear.
How we wish the people of ISIS would find the joy of Jesus Christ.
How we wish the people fighting over radical histories would find our joy
How we wish people in our own community would find joy even in poverty and uncertainty
How we wish we could find joy when we feel lost in grief and fear.
Sometimes we have to Swim further our and dive deeper
If joy is deep in my heart, I’ve got to go deep to get it
Jumping into the deep end of joy.
Where do we Go to find Joy?
Challenge you to find someone, in the next two days, who does not have a church home and ask them, “What would it take for you to come visit my church tomorrow night?”
- Would it take buying groceries or putting gas in their tank?
- Would you have to keep their kids or mow their lawn?
- Would it take driving them a doctor’s visit?
- You would do it for the least of these gathered here tonight, why not try it on someone else who needs a home? (Come Back to the challenge)
Jumping into our world view. How does to the world see us? Do we have the right clothes, car, hair style, jewelry, the right bumper stickers or yard signs
- If my joy is based on money and I don’t have money, then I have no joy
- If my joy is based on toys and I don’t have the latest toy, I have no joy
- If my joy is based on what others think or perceive from me, and they don’t like or approve of me, then I have no joy.
- What if my joy is founded in the one who loves me, I will always have joy
- What if my joy is grounded in the one who made me, I can always find joy
- What if my joy is rooting in the one who sees my brokenness and sin and still claims me as their own, Joy is always an option.
Tomorrow we will celebrate some JOY because you will bring the joy in the process of opening your hearts and share the search for Joy with others.
We will talk about the obstacles to JOY tomorrow.
Tonight we pray for those persons who need the JOY we know in Christ.
Tonight we pray for the JOY that will be revealed in the morning.
Tonight we celebrate that Jesus has planted JOY by Justification, but making right our broken hearts and lives.
Look at your neighbor: Tell them I want to see the JOY living in you.
Tell them: I’ve Got the JOY of Jesus Christ in my, let me tell all about it.
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [NRSV]
The primary role of the prophet is NOT to tell the future. Job number one is to help the people and the king see the present as it truely is. The present without the bias, without the spin, but will all of the honesty and frustration that the people and the king are trying to avoid or blow out of proportion.
Start with the weather: Who can be our prophet today and tell us the weather conditions today? Hot! How hot? Dry or Wet? How Dry/Wet?
What does knowing the current conditions tell us about what we do this afternoon or tomorrow?
Measurement and Standards
How do we measure current conditions?
In matters of faith we turn to scripture and read it through the Ben Franklin glasses of National Treasure fame. One lense shows the traditions that have shaped our past. One lens reflect what our God created brains tell us through reason. One lens opens our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit in our own experince. No one lens is stronger than the other and all three are directed toward our understanding and encounter with the Bible as the holy Word. True comes when we are willing to use all three lens as we read, listen and respond to the bible.
We have other measurea in our standards, but scripture through these three perspectives is our greatest tool.
Using the Tools for Good.
The reasons we gather for worship are not only to praise God, but to learn the traditions of the church, experience the work of the hold spirit and spark our inspiration to learn and grow together.
The reasons we have Sunday school and small groups is not just to socialize, gossip and drink coffee, but to share our journey of study and reflection, practicing our ideas, suggestions and standards before we must act on our faith in our daily lives.
The reason we reach out to feed, cloth, comfort, build, repair, heal and be-friend others in Jesus name is to practice the faith that is in our minds in the real needs of the world around us.
- If we only had worship we would never grow our faith.
- If we only studied and shared our minds we would never see faith in action
- If we AND those we serve only served others we might forget why we act the way we do.
When the Signs Call for Action
A Baptism of Fire and Compelled to Complete it.
This passage shows a moment of frustration from Jesus. I have a mission of cleansing, purifying, renewing, and restarting and I wish you would see what I see.
Conditions of the Present Age:
- Are people divided?
- Are people so committed to their own convictions that they have quit listening to others of different views?
- Are people hurting for real hope?
- Are people more dependant on the government solving problems than turning to God?
- Are the churches reflecting the Body of Christ as God’s presense in the world?
- Where do we get our information?
- Where do we connect with God
- Where do study, reflect and practice our faith?
- Why do we think continuing without changing our method that we will find away through?
- What is our call to action?
Take the Field
As the Olympics begin to fade, the beginning of football season is about to break open. I would suggest that the average person knows more about thier favorite team and leauge than they do how to transform the division in our communities and hearts.
We come to worship to practice connecting with God. If there is someone you know who is not here, connect and bring them next week. Connecting others with God is the best way to connect with God.
I believe we might not feel ready to connect someone with God because we have not been present a practice or not had our heart in the drills. This is why we have Sunday school and small groups to prepare us.
I asked two weeks ago for someone to answer a call to pick up the lead of our Feed My Sheep ministry and in the past two weeks no one has stepped forward to keep this powerful ministry alive. In this present time of people hungry for the love and hope of Christ, is this the time we keep safe and quiet?
We live in a place where we are called to get in the game knowing we need more practice and preperation than time allows. We take the faith we have been given, in the grace we have been clothed and step in where and when we would rather not go and reflect Christ.
- Otherwise, we are not the church.
- Otherwise, we remain in the place of frustration
- Otherwise we are only people of mind OR tradition OR expereince..
- (Jr Bird Man finger lenses)
Tell you neighbor, you look goofy like that, but I know you are showing me Christ.
I’d rather show Christ than lead you astray.
Let’s take the field together, the clock is running and we don’t need a delay of game.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]
A Better Country
- What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
- What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
- What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
- Are you empowered or searching?
A Better Country
We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W
If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??
- Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
- Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
- We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
- People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.
The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”
Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.
New Testament Case
In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.
In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?
What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?
The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?
Call to make disciples:
- Love one another in service, AND
- Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
- Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.