Archive for October, 2020

Galatians 3:27-29 Mortar is to Bricks as Christ is to Us

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSA: Galatians 3:27-29]

It is important for us to know some context of this area. More of a recognized state or region of the people who have Greek and Roman heritage. Thus, making it a place of blended culture and religions.

The region in what we now know as central and southern Turkey was in Paul’s time known as the region of Galatia. Historically a Greek formation, the Celts, were later occupied by the Roman empire in our period of the Apostle Paul and his missionary work in this area. It was more than a city, but rather an area with thirteen divisions. It is from the accounts in both Paul’s letter to the Galatians and in Luke’s recording in the Book of Acts, that we learn about this region.

Paul was extraordinarily successful in connecting the know cultures and religions and using those as entry points to show the inadequacies of the local gods with the One, universal God by belief in His Son. Paul is likely to have been building upon some missionary work from Peter and Sillas as his typical approach was to start with the Jewish communities at local synagogues, which were rare in the region of Galatia.

But what of any of this speaks to us?

Paul offers Christ to a diverse and divided culture that has been bouncing through generations of sweeping religious, political, and cultural changes. It is in this context that we see Paul being particularly helpful in transforming devotion into discipleship, and loyalty into faith and belief.

What if the world, the nation? Georgia? North Georgia? Our communities? Or our fellowship was so clothed in Christ, that the first thing we see in one another is Christ.

When you introduce yourself through writing, what is the first detail you would share about yourself?

  • Would it be career?
  • In some type of relationship?
  • Having kids or grands?
  • Would it be gender, or some other physical descriptor?
  • Would it be your hobbies or talents?
  • Most would say it differs by the context.
  1. Facebook: “Human, husband, father, pastor, writer, #humorinlife #foodie #techie #zippermerging #zoomevangelist”
  2. Twitter: “a sinful child saved by Christ, pastor, husband, father, writer, techie, foodie, neighbor, voter looking for humor, and humor in life. clergy.pro
  3. Business Card: “Sharing Christ and the Journey”

And how would you describe Rock Spring in 100 words?

Is their any church that would not consider starting with the words, “We are a friendly church” no matter if we were or were not.

                Many times we are, Sometimes we are not, and sometimes most are friends, but always a handful on any give Sunday are distracted with something else in lives or on their heart.

  • Would we share our missions because we are proud of our accomplishments or how much Christ has done for and through us?
  • Would we list our activities we like or think others would like or how Christ shapes, guides, and challenges us?
  • Would we describe what we enjoy about our worship, or how God is blessed by our praise and fellowship?
  • Would we tell about how easy it is to visit and join, or how much work and devotion it takes to continue growing, serving, and following Christ?

Paul starts reminding the church: You are the baptized in Christ. You are clothed in Christ.

  • Baptism is the sign of our adoption as sons and daughters of God, through and with Christ.
  • Baptism is the moment we celebrate our life being more than our own.
  • Baptism is our joining the family as heirs of the witness, work, and reward that God would bestow.
  • Baptism is our spiritual birth into our heavenly citizenship.
  • Baptism is not just something we hope people have done before they die, it is the belonging-relationship that we celebrate while we are living.

Paul is reminding the church that we are first responders to the fires burning in peoples hearts and minds, we have something better than Kevlar and Nomex, we are clothed with Christ who has died for us and lives for us to be in God, forever.

Paul encourages the church painting the warm quilt of love, faith, and prayer that surrounds us in the cold world, and the from the emptiness of being lost or alone. We are clothes with Jesus Christ who renews and restores and walks with us in all of life and death.

Paul is teaching the church to put on the arm, put on the baptism, put on the quilt, put on the strength, wisdom, and faithfulness of Christ because without it we are wearing the [Emperor’s New Clothes/ ‘naked’] instead that the world is selling as truth, safety, and meaning.

Once we wear the team uniform of Christ we are no longer divided; we become united in Christ.

If we are clothed by opinions, ideologies, data-points, peer-reviewed conclusions: all these change for day to day and as the context and balance of power shifts in the world. We are clothed in the life of Christ, don’t forget, don’t let go, don’t exchange it.

Think of all the descriptors in our lives: We rally around being in different camps: bulldogs, hound dogs, elephants, eagles, tigers, lookouts, Biscuits, owls, gophers, moccasin shoe, pickles, and our family favorite: Mighty, Fighting Okra from Delta State in Cleveland, Mississippi.

We divide up by age groups: Gen Z, Millennials or Gen Y, Gen X, Boomer, WW2ers, Depressists. They all sound terrible. But we try to make generation distinctions to hopefully better understand when we actually labeling and dividing people with names.

The is one race. We are humans. We have different cultures, pigments of skin color, and varieties of traditions and assessments of our identities as individuals and groups. We are all creations of God’s handiwork, created, loved, and saved by God.

  • We have some shared features, but all have different fingerprints, and DNA markers that show God creates, not simply to mass produce, but value us one at a time, here is our weakness and strength.
  • We are free to choose to love God or run from God. But living and seeking God acknowledges our questions, failures and fears and ability, through the grace in Christ, we have a way together, in Christ.
  • We are valued by God both 1) the unique person we are and 2) the whole fellowship we become in Christ.

This week’s realization: The following is not politically bias: In the most recent weeks, I have had more occasions to speak with people who are anti-church, anti-religion, religious in practice-but not thriving in spiritual fruitfulness. I offer a both/and observation. There are flaws in our country, but we continue to be the nation that immigrants desire to leave their home to live. There are divided opinions and bias news surrounding us from every side, but other nations continue to turn to us for support, technology, and protection. There laws that need to be added and improved, but our system of government has built a nation that can welcome, respond, and adapt because it is a both/and relationship: Holding fast to our roots AND continues to amend our flaws.

Paul is telling a region of none Jewish people to believe in a God who is working through the Jew’s messiah, Jesus, God’s Son, to bring hope, meaning, salvation, love, power, grace, and is continuing this work through ALL who are baptized and clothed with Christ. Not destroying the framework but building upon it the work of the church, that whole world may know God through us.

Whether is to church OR state, the foundations have provided the framework, that without it we would not have the opportunities we enjoy today.

  • The State will never love us, only use or appease us.
  • The state will never be our salvation.
  • The State will never die that we might live, rather calling us to suffer for its life.
  • Remember who’s uniform you have been saved to wear?
  • Remember which team that has died for you?
  • Remember it Christ that truly unites us and not common law, identity, or opinion.
  • Be Not afraid, God is with us. Repeat these words of assurance with me: “Be Not Afraid, God is With us!”
  • Don’t let the worldly division sum up your identity or communities. Be those clothed in Christ.
  • Let the world see Christ, just as they have seen your sport team colors and generational style
  • Let the world look to those who are clothed in Christ, as sinners who are made who by Christ.
  • Let the world see God’s presence in the living our faith and sacrifice to follow and grow.
  • Let the world see in this context, this time in history, the eternal love and power of Christ today!
  • Be Not afraid, God is with us. Repeat these words of assurance with me: “Be Not Afraid, God is With us!”

In his letter to the Galatians, he appeals directly to their well-known love of freedom and independence (5:1) and repeatedly contrasts freedom of the spirit through Christ with the slavery offered by pursuing worldly pleasures. He even specifically cites behavior and sins long associated with the Galatians such as jealousy, drunkenness, liberal sexuality, and idolatry (5:19-20) and contrasts these with the freedom from vice and corruption offered by Christianity (5:22-24). His appeals worked well, and the Galatians were converted, exchanging Sabiazos’ and Cybele’s protection for that of Jesus Christ. Herm notes that “the Christian communities under the jurisdiction of the Drunemeton were among the oldest founded” by Paul and Galatia grew into one of the most vital Christian centers of the region (43).

The Galatians by this time were almost thoroughly Hellenized and had further substituted their Celtic-Greco customs with Roman beliefs and attitudes. Christianity replaced their old religion, and the temples were turned into churches. This same paradigm was repeated, with the addition of military force, following the Muslim Invasion of Anatolia in 830 CE when the populace was converted to Islam and churches became mosques. By this time, there was little left of the original Celtic-Greco culture of Galatia. Its name survives today primarily through the biblical epistle of St. Paul and, possibly, the suburb of Galata outside of Istanbul, Turkey. [Mark, J. J. (2019, October 24). Galatia. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/galatia/%5D

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Romans 14:7-13 Mature Enough to Include

Photo: Creator: Michael Luhrenberg | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. [NRSV: Romans 14:7-13]

What are the best foods each holiday?

  • Best tailgate food?
  • Best Halloween candy?
  • Best Thanksgiving side dish?
  • Best Christmas food?

Look, we have just divided ourselves into different groups based on our preferences, heritage, and practice.  

In the context of election if there is someone who will or has vote/d in all of the opposite candidates, why argue with them and divide your relationship? Which is more important to press someone to belief, or hold fast yourself and allow them to learn from your faithfulness?

  • We get impatient
  • We are lured to believe what we here,
  • We trust opinions without review, and
  • We stand on principles that are not grounded in God.

First, Paul is saying, don’t divide and create enemies over trivial things. Don’t close the door on a relationship just to be right. INSTEAD, be righteous in your own thinking and actions, AND surrender yourselves to CHRIST, and let God be the judge of things.

Part Two – be open to love everyone.

If God only loves and be-friends us when we are good and blameless, then God would have condemned us all long ago.

John 3, while we were yet sinner, he sent his son, to give his live for ours. Even though rejecting the sin, God embraces us in the hope that we learn from the life, and sacrifice of Christ and come to understand, believe, trust, and devote our lives to God, to Gods purpose. 

Our denomination never lived into the motto, “Open hearts, minds, and doors” rather than hold one another accountable, and we adopted a new motto.

Part One – (Out of order because we typically think it is an afterthought or that we don’t need Spiritual growth or even Spiritual Maintenance.

Part One is that which we must master first: Accepting Christ has died and now lives for us personally, AND that we are surrendered to him with our own sin and struggle.

  • Both parts are vital.
  • Jesus both teaches the crowd of thousands AND feeds them.
  • Jesus invited us to follow AND calls us to disciple others. 

It’s not either-or.  Our calling is to feed, clothe, and provide for those in physical needs, AND it is all to spiritually feed, spiritual clothing, and provide the spiritual Community for all.

Context of Romans: Paul, who wrote many letters as the social media of his day, shared this letter as his final letter. From this more mature place he becomes STRONG in CHRIST for himself, and TOLERANT of others less mature, so that his faith become his witness.

If I continue to sin, who, are we to judge any other person. Paul is clear that our job is NOT to be a spiritual judge.  But we ARE to be passionate about building up the opportunities to transform our relationship as disciples. and leave the rest to God, who deals with us individually knowing the struggles and journey of every person. ( some laborers work all day some mid-day other the last our but all received the same reward.)

The Mature and reflective Paul

Even if some is wrong, be mature enough to to keep the relationship open,  live out what you know to be true but do not make enemies.

Two people can be both wrong, and will also stand before God, whether they believe in God, accept God, or not. 

Allowing someone the room to be wrong, but close enough to learn from being close 

We belong to the lord

Whether people believe in God, God continues with love, hope, and waits in patience for each of us to come to know and to worship or reject God.

Ref. Isaiah 45:23> “every knee will bend and tongue confess or acknowledge”  God is not only real, but also the author of life, love, and authority.  

Gameplay

A mature player knows that tick tack toe ends up in a scratch more often than not and the two places that typically allow someone to win most every time. In card games, any strategy game the experienced player has the opportunity to teach the opponent to become a better player so that the game eventually is more Challenging and satisfying, OR they only play to win, which has glory at that moment only.

God is not gaming us, but is inviting us:

to AVOID being a stumbling block to others,

to be discipling others by welcoming and tolerating others,

and particularly ‘difficult’ relationships

As your neighbor the Charlie Brown Spiritual advice question: Q?

“Am I a Spiritual Blockhead?”

  • Is my attitude
  • or my behavior
  • or my words keeping someone from seeing and know Christ lives in me?

A “Christian” high school played Frances’s volleyball team last night and just before the game, the other school was celebrating their victory over their last football game. The announcer said, “We are honoring our team for demolishing the competition.” Are we saying things that others hear, and doing things that others see, and closing relationship before they start or shuting doors, minds, and hearts from Christ.

  • Don’t be a blockhead,
  • don’t be a stumbling block,
  • don’t be focused on the log with a speck in our own eye,
  • be mature Christians.
  • Be seasons in your own faith.
  • Encourage, invited, inspire, inform, but don’t beat the sheep into submission. The Good Shepherd goes out looking until the lost are found and rejoices at THEIR return.

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Revelation 7 Is Your Road Leading to Heaven?

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given the power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. 5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

The Great Multitude in White Robes

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple, and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water. ’‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ [NRSV: Rev 7]

This part of John’s vision, his portent into heaven is a glimpse. It does not answer all our questions, but it is intended to give us assurance and calls for endurance in the faith.

  • From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,                     
  • from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
  • from the tribe of Gad 12,000,                                                    
  • from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
  • from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,                                          
  • from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
  • from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,                                             
  • from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
  • from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,                                           
  • from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
  • from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,                                              
  • from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000

Exodus 24:4 NIV   https://www.biblestudytools.com/exodus/24-4.html Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. [NRSA]

Summary of Numbers 2

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.” [NRSA]

East

  • On the east, toward the sunrise, Judah are to encamp under their standard 74,600.
  • The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. 54,400.
  • The tribe of Zebulun will be next. 57,400.
  • All the men in these three number 186,400. They will set out first.

South

  • On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard, 46,500.
  • The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them, 59,300.
  • The tribe of Gad will be next, 45,650.
  • All the men in these divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.

Center

  • Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.

West

  • On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim, 40,500.
  • The tribe of Manasseh will be next, 32,200.
  • The tribe of Benjamin will be next, 35,400.
  • All the men in these divisions number 108,100. They will set out third.

North

  • On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan, 62,700.
  • The tribe of Asher will camp next to them, 41,500.
  • The tribe of Naphtali will be next, 53,400.
  • All the men in these divisions number 157,600. They will set out last.

Total Men 20 and older

All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. (Plus women, children, and the Levites)

The Activity in Heaven – Praise and Welcoming Home

  • Praise — holding palm branches                                 Glory – singing, shouting, praying
  • Wisdom – knowing and believing                              Thanks – accepting, affirming, appreciating
  • Honor – respect                                                               Power – dependent on God
  • Strength be to our God – Trusting God’s will and ways   
  • for ever and ever – eternity, (always and forever)

The Seal on the Foreheads

  • The seal is a mark of authority
  • It is the record of story
  • It is the transference of authority
  • It is being included in the story
  • This Seal is the Mark of God, the marks of grace, the living-sacrificial lamb. Jesus the Christ.

There instructions to write the message: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength” were specifically instructed to post them on the house, wear them on your forehead, memorize them in you mind, heart, and soul. SO, that we might live our these instructions wherever we are.

Whose That Yonder Dressed in White?

  • Those in white robes entering heaven, were more numerous that one could count. There is part of your answer about who goes to heaven. “from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”.
  • Heaven is a diverse collection of those who worship God, through Christ, but it is not diversity that is their ticket into heaven. They are entering as those wash and made whole through Christ.
  • And Christ’s gift of grace is offered to the whole world. Only those who live the marks of faithfulness, those who wear “Christ’s seal”
  • Just as the lamb upon the throne shone of the marks of sacrifice, so are the marks and signs of both those who have suffered the tribulation, persecution, and journey of life and still find Christ as their salvation and hope.

Do you see yourself in Heaven?

  • If you and I are not much on praising, singing and worshiping God, we might not feel at home in heaven?
  • If you and I are only thinking about God’s power but not trusting God’s power, we might not be at home
  • If others don’t see the seal of Christ as plainly as they see our face, then we might not find a robe?
  • If we are not daily, giving ourselves to Christ for strength, healing, forgiveness, power, and love, we only see a glimpse through John’s vision but have assurance of heaven includes us.

So what do we do?

  • We do on earth what its made whole in heaven. The key is in the Lord’s prayer
  • Give us your daily bread for our body and our spirit.
  • Forgive us by the same standard we forgive others
  • Face temptation and tribulations in Christ’s strength and not our own understanding or work
  • Give our heart, soul, and strength to the Lamb, Jesus Christ, to make this day holy, and the next..
  • Until Christ returns and offers the white robe and palm branches in the countless multitude.

White Robes are those who have been included in the family

Baptism, swaddling clothes and burial bands, made clean and bright by God who make us whole.

The Rag Man, Walter Wangerin,   https://ecdu.dionc.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/2350072

“But then, on Sunday morning, I was awakened by a violence that shook me to the core of my being. Light – pure, hard, insistent light – slammed against my tear-stained face and demanded that I awake. When I was finally able to open my eyes, I blinked against the light and squinted in the direction of the pile of trash where the Ragman’s body had been. As I looked, I saw the last and the first wonder of all. The Ragman was there, yes! But he was no longer dead. He was alive! There he stood, folding the old army blanket carefully and laying it atop the neatly arranged handkerchief and jacket. Besides the scar on his forehead, there was no other evidence of what he had previously taken upon himself. There was no sign of sorrow or age, no evidence of illness or deformity. His body was whole and strong and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness.”

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Romans 11:11-18 Grafted by Grace for a world in Blindness

R

Blind by choice, sigh through living faith in Christ

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [Rom 11:11-18]

Wendy and I recently watch an old classic movie “Mrs Miniver”. If you have not seen it I encourage you to check it out. It’s filmed black and white, but reflects the grey life before World War One in England in a middle class family.

The name sake of the film has a common fellow willing the contest with his rose that he has name name for his friend, Mrs Miniver.

It reminds me of my maternal grandmother. She too was industrious, compassionate, and resourceful like Mrs. Miniver. See loved raising and tending to roses, and often grafts prize roses into existing rose bushes to experiment with many varieties in her very small back yard.

The passage today is about the church being grafted into Jewish roots, through Christ, for the world whole world.

In the lifecycle of church denominations, social perspectives, and upheaval in government, we need to remember BOTH or roots and our opportunities.

Our roots are in Christ, what was the messiah for the Jews and the witness of Grace for the Gentiles. As I child I thought the Gentiles were just another geography group that. Attlee led with Israel, who must have come from the land aNd tribe of “Gentle.”

But Gentiles were not a tribe or separate government, but the category of ‘other’ compared to being Jewish. This there were those who children of Israel, and everyone else.

The olive tree was pruned to the roots and the church became the new branch that was grafted into the witness of God.

Paul’s words in chapter 11 are to both groups. Jews were called to trust and believe Jesus was their Messiah and the small group who did believe were joined with those non-Jewish, none children of Israel, who would now receive the blessing and benefits of the promise of God to Abraham, because they too believed Jesus was not just Messiah, but believed with their hearts that Jesus, is God in the flesh, offering grace and salvation for a future of living in God.

13-15)I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

A. The new branch, has its life connected through the roots of promise, covenant, and faithfulness.. with the purpose to 1) trust with their hearts, as a 2) witness to BOTH Israel and the world.

B. The pruning of Israel was to make room for where faithfulness would bear fruit.

The prophetic word is that God’s plans will continue, will we be ACTIVELY LIVING, BELIEVING, AND TRUSTING part of the blessing and trust, OR will we be blind to the voices of the world and words of the faith.

The thing I learned about roses from my grandmother is that they need a great deal of nature and pruning. The basic bush would serve as the foundation of most any variety, but without pruning the old root would show return and graft would fade without continual growth and maturing.

Long after she moved from that house I returned and looked in the back to see if the roses were still there. None of the prize roses, in the wild runner were twisted thick together along the fences.

The message for us has two parts. Are we serving as the old stump for what is God is doing and Are we pruning that which is not glorifying God?

Most directly: we have two tasks 1) are we staying connected to the foundation of our faith, are we still trusting Christ promises and expectations, and 2) are we growing toward God’s witness in the world or just taking up nutrients from those who are bearing fruit for the kingdom of God?

What does that look like in my life: 1) we can’t be part of Christ’s work and be separated from scripture. And 2) we neither can we stay the way things were NOR male things our way just be different.

Here is the test? How are we reconciling the holding in to Christ with the call of the Spirit to follow as the wind?

How are we both holding fast and living grounded in God AND responding to an ever changing world in need of salvation and redemption?

The basics: we hold one hand in the hand and heart of God through Christ, while we extend the other to show and live for the world that faith in world that seeks salvation, wholeness, and answers that it will only satisfy when they too are connected to God, through us.

The problems we will face:

1. No matter who wins the election the division, hatred, and condemnation of our neighbors is incompatible with our faith in Christ.

2. No matter how the general conference votes next year, we are called to stand firm in God, with a world that is running from God and from each other.

3. No matter what we hear that we consider to be “news” it is incomplete and empty without the Good News of God’s grace in Christ.

4. The unity’s that God seeks is not by worlds measure, but by being United in God’s promises, blessing, and salvation.

Anything less than these and we too risk being blinded, hateful, divided, excluded,and lost.

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