myoikos

The Crew: Susanna: Fellowship, Stanford, Genetic Biology, Palo Alto, CA Luke: Student, USAFA, AFIT, Dayton, OH Frances Brantley: Student, Baylor School, Chattanooga, TN; Daughter and Sister Wendy Williams Brantley: Hook Marketing, CEO; Mom and Wife John Brantley: Clergy, UMC Elder at Rock Spring UMC, oikos:itsahouseholdword, CIO of Hook Marketing. King of Kotimme.com [Clergy, Author, Writer, Seeker and Poet]

1 Timothy 6:10 When Dreams Become Nightmares

nighmares

When Dreams Become Nightmares

(from Enough: Stewardship, Adam Hamilton)

Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10b NIV)

The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:26)

The American Dream

What characterizes the greatest hopes, desires, and dreams of most Americans?

For most people, the American dream has to do with the desire for achieving success and satisfying the desire for material possessions. It is the opportunity to pursue more than what we have, to gain more than what we have, and to meet success. We tend to measure our success by the stuff that we possess.

The pursuit of immediate material pleasure

The love of money and the things money can buy is s primary or secondary motive behind most of what we American’s do. We want to consume, acquire, and buy our way to happiness – and we want it now.

The American Nightmare

The American Dream has become an American Nightmare owing to two distinct yet related “illnesses” that affect us both socially and spiritually.

“Affluenza”

“Affluenza is the constant need for more and bigger and better stuff – as well as the effect that this ‘need’ has on us. It is the desire to acquire, and most of us have been infected by this virus to some degree.

  • The average American home went from 1,660 sq ft in 1973 to 2,700 in 2016.
  • Today there are estimated to be 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in America.

“Credit-itis

“Credititis” is an illness that is brought on by the opportunity to buy now and pay later, and it feeds on our desire for instant gratification. Our economy today is built on the concept of credit-itis. Unfortunately, it has exploited out lack of self= discipline and has allowed us to feed our affluenza, wreaking havoc with our personal and national finances.

  • Average credit card debt in American in 1990 was around $3000. Today its nearly $17,000.
  • The average sale is around 125 percent higher if we use a credit care than if we pay cash because it doesn’t feel real when we use plastic instead of cash.

Credit-itis is not limited to purchases made with credit cards; it extends to car loans, mortgages, and other loans. The life of the average car loan and home mortgage continues to increase while the average American’ savings rate continues to decline.

The Deeper Problem Within

There is a spiritual issue behind both affluenza and credit-itis.

Our souls were created in the image of God, but they have been distorted. We were meant to desire God, but have turned that desire toward possessions. We were meant to find out security in God, but find it in amassing wealth. We were meant to love people, but instead, we compete with them. We were meant to enjoy the simple pleasure of life, but we busy ourselves still pursuing money and things. We were meant to be generous and to share with those in need, but we selfishly hoard our resources for ourselves. All of us have an inclination toward this sin.

The devil plays upon this inclination toward sin

Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). In order to destroy us, the devil doesn’t need to tempt us to do drugs or to steal or to have an extramarital affair. All he needs to do is convince us to keep pursuing the American Dream – to keep up with the Jones’s, borrow against our futures, enjoy more than we can afford, and indulge ourselves. By doing that, the devil will rob us of joy, makes us slaves, and keep us from doing God’s will.

  • MT 4:8-10
  • LK 8:14
  • MK 8:36
  • 1Tm 6:10

The Bible’s Solution

We need a heart change.

Although we received a changed heart when we accept Christ, in a sense we need a heart change every morning Each morning we should get down on our knees and say, “ Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be today. Take away the desires that shouldn’t be there, and help me to be single-minded in my focus and pursuit of you.” As we say this prayer and act on it, God comes and cleanses us from the inside out, purifying and changing our hearts.

We must all Christ to work in us.

Christ works in us as we first seek his kingdom and strive to do his will. As we do, we begin to sense a higher calling – a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. A key part of finding financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising r4estraint. With the help of God, we can:

simplify our lives and silence the voice constantly telling us we need more.

  • Live counterculture-ly, by living below, not above, our means
  • build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit.
  • Build into our budgets what we need to live generously and faithfully.

Activity: Place your hands in your lap, extend palms upright. Pray quietly with me: Change my heart, O God. Clean me out inside. Make me new. Heal my desires. Help me hold my possessions loosely. Help me to love you. Teach me simplicity, Teach me generosity. Give me joy. I offer my life in Jesus. A

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Colossians 3:1-11 “Never too Soon for Spring Cleaning”

sexualsin
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things–anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! [NRSV]

The Greatest Park of a Yard Sale

The greatest part of a yard sale is the opportunity to let go of the old clutter, stuff and garbage. It is amazing how we allow stuff to accumulate. Grace and repentance are how we keep from living as a self-centered person vs a God-centered person.
The way the world compartmentalizes people is not God’s way of seeing us. God calls us to live counter to the world’s culture. Our earthly heritage is based on genealogy, customs, geography, social and economic divisions. God call’s us to be different based on being spiritually clothed.

Live Like you are a child of God

  • Set your mind on the things of God
  • Clothe your spiritual self with Christ’s glory

Live as a Citizen of Heaven

Live, behave and operate based on your spiritual citizenship and not your worldly citizenship.

Don’t live like God is busy up in heaven:

  • fornication,  impurity, passion,  (Fulfilling the desires of the body are not eternal.)
  • evil desire – Invested and claiming what we declare as good but God does not.
  • greed (idolatry). (what we control and how the world values & measures.) 
  • get rid of all such things–anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive talk.

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Mark 4:35-41 “Why Are You Afraid”

Fear_eyes

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSV]

 

Top Ten Diagnosed Phobias [fearof.net]

1. Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders
2. Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes.
3. Acrophobia – The fear of heights.
4. Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces.
5. Cynophobia – The fear of dogs.
6. Astraphobia – The fear of thunder/lightning
7. Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
8. Mysophobia – The fear of germs.
9. Aerophobia – The fear of flying.
10. Trypophobia – The fear of holes
11. Carcinophobia – The fear of cancer.

12. Thanatophobia – The fear of death.
13. Glossophobia – The fear of public speaking.
14. Monophobia – The fear of being alone

15. Atychiphobia – The fear of failure.
16. Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
17. Alektorophobia – The fear of chickens.
18. Enochlophobia – The fear of crowds
19. Aphenphosmphobia – The fear of intimacy.
20. Trypanophobia – The fear of needles.

[inc.com Eric Mack, OCT 27, 2017]

74.5 % Corrupt Government
55.3 % Healthcare
53.1 % Pollution of Water
50.2 % Not enough money for the future
48.4 % High Medical Bills
48.4 % Involvement in another War
48.0 % Weather and Climate Change
47.5 % North Korea using weapons
44.5 % Air Pollution
44.4 % Economic Collapse/ Stock Crash
43.5 % Extinction of species
43.3 % Terror Attack
41.9 % Identity Theft
41.8 % Biological Attack
40.3 % Credit Fraud
39.7 % Death of Loved Ones/Friend
39.1 % Serious Illness of Loved Ones/Friend
39.1 % Cyber-Terrorism
39.0 % Nuclear Attack
38.8 % General Terrorism
38.6 % Restrictions on Firearms
37.4 % Government Tracking personal data
36.7 % Corporate Tracking of personal data
36.2 % Toxic Spills
35.7 % Electrical Grid Attack/Collapse
35.5 % Hit by a drunk driver
32.8 % Pandemic
30.7 % Being unemployed
30.2 % Nuclear accident
29.0 % Losing saved data/photos
28.2 % Heights
28.1 % Involved in a mass shooting
27.2 % Government’s use of drones within US
26.6 % Drought
26.6 % Break-ins
25.7 % Becoming seriously ill
25.4 % Victim of Theft
25.4 % Shark attack
25.3 % AI/Computers replacing people
24.3 % Tornados
23.6 % Reptiles
22.6 % Earthquakes
21.4 % Hurricane
20.9 % Hate Crimes
20.3 % Dying

2001 US Fears [Gallup.com]

1. Snakes
2. Public Speaking
3. Heights
4. closed in small spaces
5. Spiders
6. needles
7. mice
8. flying
9. dogs
10. thunder/lightening
11. crowds
12. going to the doctor
13. the dark

Jesus looks to us, knows our fear and asks us: Why are you afraid?

Fear can be a helpful and motivating force. But when we allow fear to debilitate our growth and progression we must acknowledge we need to turn to Jesus for strength.

  • I’m I afraid of dying? Yes and No! No, I know Jesus has good for me in staying and  Good for me in leaving to be with him.
  • I’m I afraid of Wendy or the kids dying? Yes and No! Yes, Jesus has great for them, but I’m not ready to miss out on time sharing our lives.
  • I’m I afraid of people’s missed-place trust in government? I have been, but I’m committed to turning that over to Jesus. Q/A: that looks like this, when I hear people afraid about politics, I’m called to ask them to pray with me about what Jesus’s boat is going to do?
  • I’ve been afraid of what the church is going to do/not do come February, but I”m not afraid any more. Jesus is going to open a way to teach us to be the church.
  • With a daughter in California I’ve been afraid of earthquakes.
  • With a son in the military I’ve been afraid of threats of war.
  • With neighbors in Hawaii I’ve been afraid they will get to close to the volcano. With a daughter in high school, I’ve been afraid that pier pressure will challenge her values and work ethic.
  • I’ve been afraid Wendy will not find her way after investing so much time caring for her parents.
  • I’ve been afraid my brother won’t be part of my family in the future.
  • I’ve been afraid, but fear is not going to arrest my faith!!

The perspective of the disciples is that Jesus does not care, because they are faced with fear.

  1. The perspective from fear is death, loss, storm and
  2. The perspective from faith is that fear is real, but Jesus is with me.
  3. What is your perspective?

How do we shift from fear to faith

  1. prayer – keep the conversation open and flowing with Jesus
  2. practice – practice turning over, talking over, trusting Jesus
  3. progress – encourage one another to help see the progress

Praying

  • a) in all things
  • b) with out ceasing
  • c) have a little talk with Jesus
  • d) listen

Practice

  • a) remember we have our responsibilities on the boat but we are not in charge of the storm.
  • B) faith grown buy trusting Jesus, trusting People of God, living God’s word.

Progress –

  • a)the encouragement that we find by looking back after the storms have pasted to prepare us for the storm of the present and the future.

 

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Mark 4:26-34 “Kingdom Seeds”

cornears

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. [NRSV]

{Happy Father’s Day: You are here because some planted a seed of faith. Thank you for the gift of life.}

The Kingdom of God: 

Jesus uses parables to paint the picture of what the church is to look like to the world. Some parables are about the Kingdom of Heaven, Some are the kingdom of earth. But this sample directs our attention to the Kingdom of God.

Recall when we pray the Lord’s prayer that we have learn from repetition: I draw your attention to the phrase “..Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus describes what it looks like when we receive glimpses of heaven on earth. 

  • The image is the of someone scattering seeds that would grow night and day. 
  • How they grow is a mystery. 
  • How they continue to grow, night and day, is a mystery.

Growth is seen in stages:

There is a plan. There is a process. There are points to measure and signs for us to watch and anticipate.

  • The Shoot
  • The Stalk
  • The Head
  • The Full Head
  • Sickle Time
  • The Harvest is the fruit of the seed.

Parable TWO: The Kingdom of Heaven is like..

The tiny mustard seed with might potential

  • The fruit is not only in the seeds for its expected yield
  • Also it provides home and shelter for others

Holding these two parables of God’s Kingdom on revealed to us is:

  • a mystery
  • a process
  • a harvest
  • some expected
  • some unexpected.

How our world longs to see what God has to reveal

I want to invite you to see the kingdom here in Rock Spring.

Over the next two years, you and I will be planing seeds.

No, I’m not helping you plant your garden, we will be scattering seeds of the kingdom. 

How difficult is to scatter seeds?

  • What equipment do you need?
  • Seeds,
  • Hands or a spreader,
  • Some movement, locomotion, transportation, usually we picture simple walking

I know how many places we can expect seeds to sprout.

3,600

What 3,600? That is part of the mystery.

Where they take root first will be a mystery, but once our seeds start being scattered, we will begin seeing sign of the Kingdom of God, both night and day.

I know that over seeding will be needed.

Today I want to show  you the first part: The Mustard Seed.

  1. Hello, My name if John Brantley
  2. I am here today on behalf of Rock Spring UMC
  3. I would like ask you two questions today.
  4. May I?
  5. Is there some need our concern that I can pray for in your life?
  6. Is there anything our church can do for you? I can’t promise that we can do every thing you ask for, but I can promise you that we will try.
  7. Here is my phone number/ email I hope you will contact me if you think of a prayer or something we can help with you and your household.

The Seed:

May we pray for you?

Can we help you in any way?

Both are filled with potential to see the Kingdom of God. 

If they say no or no thank you, or ignore you. Promise them we will check later.

Practice for now:

First I hope that you will try this wherever you go. Work, School, shopping, sporting events, vacation, start to practice. 

We will begin planting rows of a garden in Rock Spring and you need to practice scatting seeds.

When we open our hearts in prayer to listen and serve others we will begin to see the Kingdom of God growing around us.

Will you practice? I need a volunteer.

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Mark 2:23-3:6 Sabbath Rest

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath, so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. [NRSV]

When someone speaks truth and it does not agree with our understanding of the truth:

  • Do we learn from them or attack them
  • Do we change our minds or put out minds to work how to get rid of them
  • Do we admit our sin, repent and follow them or become consumed with defending our own truth.

The question is put to them

  • Which is more loving?
  • Which is more harmful?

To break the rule and help a person

Or to keep the rule and harm the person?

There is a third option:

maybe there ARE exceptions to the rule AND maybe telling to truth hurts when we don’t want to hear something that sounds unacceptable or inconvenient to us?

God made the Sabbath for us

The concept of sabbath rest is time to rest from labor and enjoy walking in the garden of eden with God

We are no longer in the garden of eden and thus our resting with God, retreating with God.

yet, Sabbath is a basic and integral part of our relationship with God.

Creation is ordered, formed, filled and blessed as God’s good work for our benefit. Part of the order of creation is the reservation of space and time for walking with God in the Garden, Sabbath.

Q: What can you do today that would most reconnect you with the God of creation having a desired to be in a good relationship with you?

Is it for our benefit or God’s

In have a question: if there are two thousand years between Adam and Eve and Moses, where is are the instructions about the sabbath.

The opportunity is built into creation but not teach for thousands of year’s.

The direction to keep the sabbath holy begins in creation, is assumed in the wilderneness gathering manna during six says, but formally observe it as a practice and tradition comes for the Ten Commandments with Moses.

our benefit to in Gods presence

Jesus gives the life-long faithful a test. What honors God the most: keeping the law, rules and traditions or healing and making someone whole.

The dilemma in this case is not about is it good to heal, rather which is better: to sin or heal someone from sin.

sabbath is

Not just an absence of work

It is day to trust God

So we come to the table

The Lord has prepared for us

For our benefit

Come and eat, be nourished

And be present in God and gods Spirit in you through Jesus Christ

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John 3:11-17 He Gave His Life

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]

He Gave His Life

Through this very familiar passage we find the treasure of assurance of God’s Love and Sacrifice and our Purpose and Salvation

Memorial Day

Honoring those who have given their life for country, church, faith and…

More that Remembering

Just as we honor and remember those who have died this Memorial Day, it is essential not only to recognize the loss of some family’s know more closely than others, but we also look at the greater good that comes when someone sacrifices for the rest of us.

This is not to be taking as lightly as we do.

In remembering what God has done for us through Jesus’s death and resurrection we acknowledge the love and sacrifice, but we also claim the greater good that comes through this service for us.

More than Memorial

Just as those who gave their life of our country and communities, they did not serve to get credit or fame or just to be remembered. They did it for duty, love, respect, trust and to save those who them they love and nation that is our home.

Jesus didn’t died to be remembered only. His death was a sacrificial death. God trades the value and meaning and purpose of his Child’s life for ours.

Response

Not only do we honor with words and songs and memories on an annual day of remembering, we honor their service by living on in their stead.

Likewise, God service and sacrifice being the greatest gift for us, is not simply to impress or to give a reason for honoring and worshiping God, it is so that we will live on in the place of Christ

The Body of Christ

This is the trade. We live because of the life of others. Graduates give thanks to the parents, grands, teachers, friends and mentors that guided them toward graduation. The students steps that follow graduation is to do something with the next part of their life that is fruit of the labor and seed of new life.

We, the church, are being tested. The exam is this:

  • Are we living as Christ or simply remembering the past traditions?
  • Are we honoring the memory of Christ, or are we sharing the living Christ with a suffering and broken world?
  • Are we honoring the idea of a loving God, but looking for every way to tear down our enemies?
  • Is God’s sacrifice and love being lived out in our words and witness?

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Romans 8:22-27 We’ve Got Spirit!

howboutyou

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. [NRSV]

The Whole Creation is Groaning

Labor Pains, Growing Pains, vs Aches and Pains

 

School shoots, political thrashing, volcano eruptions, threats nations and neighbors. It is obvious in 360* view that someone, somewhere is groaning, complaining, fearful, and under attack. It is overwhelming!

Where do we turn? Where is our solid ground? Where is our safety net? Who can save us?

Where is our Hope? 

God is our hope and we most often experience God the the Spirit form. We talk more about God and Jesus, but the Spirit moving, speaking, singing, directing and guiding us is our most common experience of God in our lives.

Remind your neighbor. God’s Holy Spirit is in me. “I’ve Got Spirit, Yes I do, I’ve Got Spirit, how about you?”

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is a special day in the life in of Church we celebrate being people of the Holy Spirit.

Pente-cost: We celebrate this Sunday, fifty days since Easter, as a looking back in the grief, lostness and chaos of life without Jesus by our physical side, to see that the world continues to spare chaos and God is about creating order, purpose and relationship.

In our Weakness

Paul instructs us and the church in Rome:

  • While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And while we are afraid, God is Strong.
  • When we are doubting God is holding fast. When we are confused, God is the foundation.
  • When we are beaten down, weary and give out, God knows our hearts and intercedes..

When we are in the painful place of uncertainty: and we are even as a global church, The  Holy Spirit is calling us to the heart of God, to the Word of God and to the be the people of God for a world in chaos.

God intercedes for Us

The Good News is the God is expecting us to do the trusting and God do the leading. Our trusting we call HOPE>

  • Hope is trusting what we cannot explain nor understand
  • Hope is trusting God, when there are alternatives to place our trust.
  • Hope is leaning in, depending on God to be God and for us to follow, 
  • Hope is not protecting what we have dominion and control over, it is give God what we think of as our own and trusting God to use all that we are.

Trust God (Hope) to Show up through the Holy Spirit.

When you hear the voice of crazy-making: Call for God to speak words of peace

When you have no words, let God speak through your ‘sighs’ and ‘groans’ let me hear you  sigh and groan. You’re good at it. Sometime we need to not speak and turn to God’s word to speak for us.

Before we join in another chorus of complaining and blaming, sing two verses of trusting God to speak through you. Don’t add to the world’s blaming and complaining..

Share God’s words and wisdom of hope, faith, trust, power, and grace.

Have you ever had an attorney speak for you… they will help keep you out of trouble when you want to speak for yourself. Attorney’s get a bad wrap, but in times of chaos they help guide us through the law, speaking in our best interest, this is how Paul reminds us to trust the Holy Spirit.

Stop fussing, don’t fear, stop pointing fingers and assigning blame, turn to the Holy Spirit and God’s word to guide us.

Fight the urge to be correct, to be justified in the moment, to win the argument, to take offense at a post on social media, to label and objectify a person or group…. Lean into the trust/hope that God is longing to speak through us.

Hear the Bad News:

The world is in chaos, because we have placed our hope in other voice.

Hear the Good News:

God continues to love us and call us to hope/trust through the labor, through the chaos, God is with us. Listen to God, Follow God, Hope for God, live for God.

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John 17:6-19 Covenant People, Covenant Church

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. [NRSV]

The entering into and committing oneself to a continuing relationship. Christians see themselves as a people of a covenant with God. The New Testament or “New Covenant” is that covenant of the saving work of Jesus Christ through the grace of God and the response Christians make in their profession of faith and baptism. This understanding of covenant has been important throughout the life of United Methodism.

Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/glossary-covenant

¶ 125. United Methodists throughout the world are bound together in a connectional covenant in which we support and hold each other accountable for faithful discipleship and mission. Integrally holding connectional unity and local freedom, we seek to proclaim and embody the gospel in ways responsible to our specific cultural and social context while maintaining “a vital web of interactive relationships” (¶ 132). At the same time, we desire to affirm and celebrate our relationships, covenants, and partnership with autonomous, affiliated autonomous, affiliated united covenanting, and concordat churches (¶¶ 570-574) as well as other partners in the Wesleyan and ecumenical Christian families. Our worldwide connectional relationship is one of the ways we carry out our missional calling beyond national and regional boundaries. For our connectionalism to become a living practice, we need to carry the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church deep into the life and mission of our local congregations. Only when we commit ourselves to interdependent worldwide partnerships in prayer, mission, and worship can connectionalism as the Wesleyan ecclesial vision be fully embodied. Guided by the Holy Spirit, United Methodist churches throughout the world are called afresh into a covenant of mutual commitment based on shared mission, equity, and hospitality.

In covenant with God and with each other:

We affirm our unity in Christ, and take faithful steps to live more fully into what it means to be a worldwide church in mission for the transformation of the world.

We commit ourselves to crossing boundaries of language, culture, and social or economic status. We commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people, as we, in faithfulness to the gospel, seek to grow in mutual love and trust.

We participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry, recognizing that our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.

We commit ourselves to full equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.

We enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality, creating a new sense of community and joyously living out our worldwide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

A Companion Litany to Our Covenant for the Worldwide United Methodist Church

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we affirm our unity in Christ.

People: We will take faithful steps to live as a worldwide church in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people.

People: In faithfulness to the gospel, we will cross boundaries of language, culture, social or economic status as we grow in mutual love and trust.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry.

People: We share our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources recognizing that they are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to full equality.

People: We uphold equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality.

People: With God’s grace, we joyfully live out our worldwide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/section-1-the-churches

Wesleyan Covenant Groups

WESLEYAN SMALL GROUP RESOURCES

• Books on the Class Meeting

• Covenant Discipleship resources

• Overview of Covenant Discipleship

• Introduction to Class Leaders

• In Mission Together

• Books on Wesleyan community

• Books and studies on discipleship

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, succinctly described the plan of discipleship in what he called The General Rules. As Christians, we are to (1) do no harm by avoiding evil of every kind; (2) do good to all people; and (3) attend upon all the ordinances of God like participating in worship, taking Communion, reading the Bible, praying, and more.

Unfortunately, knowing that does not always translate into living it. Learn more about how Wesley’s concept of small groups as a place for accountability and spiritual growth have been adapted for today.

http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/wesleys-small-group-model-for-today

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1 John 5:1-6 Water and the Blood

wearethechurchEveryone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. [NRSV]

  1. When were you baptized? By whom? At what age were you baptized?
  2. What is the Spirit saying to the world through you as a baptized person in Christ?
  3. If you have not been baptized would you like to talk with John about Baptism?

Late summer in 1964, my parents handed me over to some old white-headed preacher in South Georgia, who I think was the District Superintendent at the time, who baptized me. The pastor asked my parents, my family, and the congregation gathered at the church to reaffirm their faith, to join in the promise to raise me in the faith. I believe I was less than three months old, but I don’t remember the details first hand. But I remember thirteen years later confirming that infant baptism. And in the past forty years have been lived on the roller coast of trust and doubt, obedience and sin, all grounded in life in Jesus Christ.

The water of salvation and the sacrificial blood of love have paved this ride. In the letter of first John there is in Chapter 5, the confirmation that belief in Jesus Christ is an ongoing choice of

  • Baptism as Incorporation into the Body of Christ.
  • Baptism as Forgiveness of Sin.
  • Baptism as New Life.
  • Baptism and Holy Living.
  • Baptism is the doorway to the sanctified life.
  • Baptism as God’s Gift to Persons of Any Age.
  • Baptism is appropriate for any day the community of faith is gathered.

 

Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit.

Water is the cleansing from the fate of sin and death, the blood is that sacrifice in grace through Christ the we become part of the presence of Christ in the world, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

“I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together…

” The Church is the people of Christ.   [UM Book of Hymns #475]

  • Stories of the Believers:
  • Witness of the Believers”

 

From the UMC.org site below:

Who tells you who you are?

We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.

To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.

God Initiates the Covenant

We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.

God Has Chosen Us

Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”

The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

Baptism Is the Door

From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

Why Baptize Babies?

From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.

Baptism Is Forever

Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.

Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End

You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.

If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.

What Is a Sacrament?

The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

 

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1 John 4:7-21 Love because we’re loved.

lovedgrand

Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. [NRSV]

We love because he first loved us.

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

It would seem simple, easy and direct to follow the commandment to love one another.

At the heart of this is the most recent addition to the promises we make when we become a member of the United Methodist Church. We promise our prayers, presence, gifts, service, AND our witness.

This last step is what brings our faith full-circle. The first four are a progression toward the fifth which was assumed since we know what happens when we ass-u-me too much?

Love must be shared to be found.

The idea of sharing our witness is the intentional living a life of Love that does not assume people will automatically see Jesus in my actions.

We gather in worship today to play music/sing and worship for whose benefit?

If we say the number one reason is my me, what I get out of it, we would benefit more from re-learning why do “church” in the first place.

The church is a place that we gather to pray, grow in spirit, share our talents and practice our faith with one another. But we come to worship, the largest gathering of our church for

#1 God.

#2 Those around us and those outside the church

#3 For our own faith and strength.

We live in a consumer society that generally assumes its a three-in-one product, but that is not always true.

Getting the Horse in front of the Cart

vs 21 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love”

Our witness is to a world that is afraid. Where we see and hear fear, we know love is absent or at best weak or at risk. We talked about making disciples and faith sharing for three months of sermons. Some of you have shared faith-sharing stories and I’m excited and proud of your boldness and progress.

When you hear me say, “I am afraid” I have lost hold of God’s hold on me.

We all know fear at different parts of our lives: new environments, as we grieve lost relations, when we cannot control a given situation, etc. When we meet people in moments of their fear, we have the very best opportunities to connect people with God.

It does not take long to hear someone share:

I’m scared,

I’m alone,

I’m afraid,

I’m lost,

I’m frustrated, etc.

it is a great time for faith sharing and witnesses of God’s love.

1 John Reminds us that God loves us. The example is most clear in the sacrificial gift of Christ, AND yet there are times we still let fear cheat us out of our inheritance.

Said another way: On our worst days and nights is the time we most need to be taught or reminded how very extraordinary it is to be loved by God and God’s people.

The tendency, when someone is scared, is to boldly retreat into protection and self-preservation mode or to rashly grab the reigns of self-made control mode. Neither example is relying on God’s love and strength to protect or order our lives.

God is love

There is no fear in love

When you see, experience or faced with those in fear, its time to practice loving as God loves us.

The Heart of the passage

We have the very best example of love in Jesus Christ

He takes our sin and makes us new, calling us to live lives free of sin and fear.

Some days we believe and trust this love

Other days we forget and trust something or someone else and we find the broken state of fear, hurt, rejection, guilt, shame, etc.

We belong to the body of Christ that reminds and encourages us to trust God instead of ourselves or our friends or our enemies, instead we challenges and inspire each other trust. God.

John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer is an example of the witness we are called to share:

Put on these words and trust God to make you whole, give you peace, surround you with love and share this with the fearful divided world around us:

I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen. [John Wesley, Covenant Prayer]

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