Archive for category #2016
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [NRSV]
I recall my parents making drawn and silk screened Christmas cards as part of the family tradition of preparing for Christmas. Part of the handmade effort was the personal and creative gift the other was for economical reasons. Each year mom would draw some variation of Mary and Jesus, occasionally including Joseph, an angel or a star. Dad would do the printing. My jobs waving the paper for the ink to dry, affixing stamps and sealing the envelopes. After the fourth or fifth church, it was necessary to use a bulk permit to cover nearly 800 hundred cards to church members, family, and friends. Somewhere along the way, a simple gift became a chore and the tradition change to about 100 written cards. The issue was the growing gap of ingenuousness between the original gift to the present.
What had been a creative chore, became a dreaded task not to forget or offend.
What is the appropriate message to share at Christmas?
- For some, it is the annual family letter. If I have one good thing to say about Facebook, is that it seem the longer FB is around, the fewer Christmas letters I receive.
- For some, mention every attribute of a Bing Crosby festival but offers wishes for happy tidings and warm companionship with everyone.
May You feel God’s presence in the candles, that softly spread their glow at Christmas and may you experience the wonder of His abiding love, as He guides you, through each day of the coming year.
- For others, the cards convey perfunctory words of acknowledging goodness and an unclear image of peace.
“Thinking warmly of each of you and wishing your family an extra measure of comfort, joy and hope.”
- We have tried to send Christmas cards, but we typically send them out during the Christmas season, rather during the weeks of Advents. [as late as St Patricks Day]
What about the Cards from the John the Baptist Card Collection?
- Front: May your camel’s hair coat be scratchy and you locust be toasty, may your voice be one crying out I the wilderness this year. Inside: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
- Front: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! Inside: Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
- Cover: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor. Inside: He will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
- Best Cover: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Inside: Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
John the Baptist reminds us to ask each other: for what are we preparing? Christ, ourselves or something else.
Our response is to say, “80 percent may be for me, my family, my idea, my traditions, my memories, my warm fuzzy feeling, and 20 percent is for you Jesus.” You complete the percents for yourself.
I have shared by Christmas list with Santa, I have begun to buy gifts for others, I have begun to get out decorations, I have begun filling my calendar with events, I have begun singing along with Christmas favorites, but
Can anyone tell Jesus is the driving cause of my actions, or have I left that to chance and hope others will guess what leads my heart and life.
It’s not about “Merry Christmas” it is about Jesus.
- John the Baptist is not so worried about offending the Jewish leaders, as he is making certain everyone knows to be humbled before Christ.
- Jesus is the King whose roads need to be made ready, not the government
- Jesus is the is the one worthy to give himself for us
- Jesus is worth shouting boldly about to the world
Advent, Preparing, Reclaiming the task of preparing: The example is baptism.
REPENT: Turning around and Remembering we are claimed by God, made new in Christ, forgiven and made whole through water and the Spirit.
Advent: Series RECLAIMING CHRISTMAS
“ReClaiming Christmas: The Unexpected Gifts
A Look at the gift that is missing from Christmas, and why.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. [Matthew 24:36-44]
ReClaiming Christmas: The Christmas Cards
A Season of Sharing the Story, “The John The Baptist Collection” of Cards: Repent, You Brood of Vipers,
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.“” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “”The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’“” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “”You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “”I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”” [Matthew 3:1-12]
ReClaiming Christmas: Why Celebrate Jesus
Why Care About the Reasons for the Season
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”” [Luke 1:46b-55]
Reclaiming Christmas: Christmas Delivery
Will the gifts we share bring hope, life and joy?
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “”Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.“” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “”Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”” which means, “”God is with us.“” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. [Matthew 1:18-25]
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. [NRSV]
The Title song, “Unchained Melody”, of the 1955 movie Unchained has been sung and recorded by many different sings becoming a platnum recorded hit in both the US and UK. The list of singers included:
- Co-Authors: Alex North and Hy Zaret
- Les Baxter
- Roy Hamilton
- Todd Duncan
- the Righteous Brothers
- Elivs Presely
- Perry Como
- the Platters
- Roy Orbison
- Neil Diamond
- Barry Manilow
- And my others.
The original theme song captured the torn heart of a man who while in prison was pulled between escaping prison and serving his term to return to his love and family.
Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely rivers flow
To the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh
“Wait for me, wait for me”
I’ll be coming home, wait for me
Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered, for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely mountains gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Waiting for the dawn of the day
All alone I gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Dreaming of my love far away
We live in a culture where it is easy to be torn between hearing the Gospel as a message that frees us to live for God while others hear it as exclusive words that harn and divide.
Each time you hear song, one of the most popular songs worldwide, in the 20th century, think of God singing it to the church.
- Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much, Are you still mine?
- .. Wait for my, I”ll be coming home, wait for me. wait for me.
Paul again is sharing with Timothy, call him to remind the church to not be ashamed of the Gospel but live as a person who is free to live for God, even if you are in prison.
Think of all the reasons to keep silent? To escape the grace of the Gospel?
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful
Q: The Task for us to how to encourage one another in remaining faithful.
Actions over Words: The say is true and sure: Your witness may be the only Gospel someone reads.*
*Note the asterisk: I don’t have to preach, teacher, prophet, or spokesperson as long as I am presenting myself as one who is freed in Christ, as one approved and accepted by God.
The (*) requires that we make sure know of the message has been received as intended.
Present Yourself as a Worker for God.
- “Dressed” for work that reflects God’s grace. Not a church dress code, rather dressed to serve.
- “Dressed” to witness
- “Dressed” to represent God.
“Dressed” is an act of preparation:
Prepare not by having the right words, but the Godly actions
- am I prepared to love?
- am I prepared to forgive?
- am I prepared to lead others to Christ?
- am I prepared to feed, clothe and comfort?
- am I prepared to be persecuted, rejected, inconvenienced?
am I prepared to tell God’s truth or my convenient version
The Path Taken
Whether broad or narrow: God is with us.
There be faithful in sharing the Gospel.
Last week I invited you to make contact and pray for someone
This week our homework is to prepare to show some part of the Gospel in our actions.
- Plan for it
- Expect God to send someone in your path
- Dress for the Gospel, live like you work for the Kingdom.
- Remember you are not chained but freed to love and live for Christ.
- Know you are free in Christ to set other free.
- Be ready to share what happens when you show your faith.
Christ Came to Save Sinners
- It’s not new but it remains our hallmark.
- It is opposite of the image we have sold to the unchurch and de-churched.
- It remains our message and work of being the body of Christ for the world.
I am the gold medal Sinner
- The best at choosing poorly.
- The best at being bad.
- The best at placing God’s seal of approval on our blindly seeking what we determine God wants for ourselves and the world.
Sin is the perfect place for Jesus to shine.
- is working in the backwards direction,
- is leading us away from the heart of God,
is our sin.
Sin is not a concrete list of Don’t and Do’s.
The lists help, but the lists are never inclusive enough to cover all the shades of grey.
Practice Application of Shining Christ through our Sin:
- “Lead me not into temptation”
- Practice Piety (Wesley’s Rule #3)
- Membership promises to use the church as a place of faith building/practice
- When we see our on sin, own up and ask for grace/fresh start
- When others see our sins, we confess, make right what can be done and seek grace
- When we think we get away with ‘it’ know this day, God knows and hurts with us.
- Grace over Judgement:
- Jesus looks at our sins and see someone to love and bless
- Calls for our repentance (our desire and willingness to be transformed)
- Call us to go and sin no more, live in the God direction
- Not as a rule but as response to grace
So are you a sinner? Yep!
Does Jesus want to make you new, no matter if we are the best sinner? Yep!
Does God gives us a minds, a spirit and the church for support to grow toward God.
Who needs to know this? Who can you sit down and explain this to? who needs to hear this from you? GO SHOW THEM how far you have come through Christ.
Posted by myoikos in #2016, #costofdiscipleship, #cross, #forgiveness, #jesus, #mysundaysermons, #relationship, #sacrifice, bonhoeffer, Church, Communion, Disicpleship, Hope, Meaning, money, posessions, Preparation, Resurrection People, Sacrifice, Salvation, Service, Spiritual, Trust, Witness on September 3, 2016
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
This test describes four points of discipleship: Family, Carrying the cross, Following through what we start, and Giving up possessions.
Bonhoeffer devoted much of his life to this text from Luke and we can learn from his faith investment for our own journey as disciples.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years. Later he was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then executed by hanging on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing. [Wiki]
- Discipleship: One who devotes one’s life to following Jesus.
- To Disciples others: To invite, support, and equip/teach others how to follow Jesus.
- Q: If I am not a Disciple of Jesus, to whom/what do I devote my life?
The Rude Awakening: To be a disciple is to wager our own life, all our relationship, all our possessions and struggle toward the Spiritual person God wants us to become in a broken and sin-filled, hurting world.
In this season of political turmoil, we can easily find folks either sticking one’s head in the sand OR being consumed by the drama. What are disciples to do in the next 64 days?
- By all means, be an informed voter and vote.
- By all means, trust that God will be your salvation and strength and not the government.
- By all means, study, pray and encourage those who choose blindness/ignorance to be informed and those consumed to evaluate what is most important in every day, not only election day.
- Seek God first, and all else will be revealed and added.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple:
The family is the core community in the human community. Jesus is calling us to compare our family of choice and our family of birth.
Just because we have people who are blood kin does not mean that they are living, acting, supporting, forgiving and trusting like our struggling faith family.
The community of the saints is not an “ideal” community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness…Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men [and women] who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Carry the Cross
To be a following of Jesus is to imitate what we see and hear Jesus doing.
When Jesus welcomed the marginalized, forgotten and excluded folks, he talked, ate, fellowshipped, touched, and healed them, AND he sent them to go and “Sin No More.”
Following Jesus is both being touched and blessed by Jesus, but it is then our responsibility to become the new person that follows the new way of life in Jesus.
- To “Carry the Cross” is to feed people AND call people to be fed spiritually
- To “Carry the Cross” is to clothe people AND wrap them in spiritual encouragement.
- To “Carry the Cross” is to visit, stand with AND be Christ for someone
It is easy to carry the cross in symbolic ways, but it is ultimately allowing CHRIST to carry us on the cross.
Bonhoeffer: There is a way to measure if we are carrying the cross:
“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Finish what we Start
How many projects have been started at your house, shop, work, school, and life with great excitement and zeal, but when we meet resistance, a conflict of time, or lack of resources, or loss of focus, we lay it aside.
We know in our heads and hearts what following Jesus is about, doing it is where the power is found.
“So many people come to church with a genuine desire to hear what we have to say, yet they are always going back home with the uncomfortable feeling that we are making it too difficult for them to come to Jesus.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Give up Posessions
This is where we usually head out the door or start thinking about lunch or find some other explanation other than the obvious one.
Bonhoeffer helps us with a suttle difference about posessions and a life devoted to Christ.
“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
There is a falacy that giving our money away obsolves us from material management. Saving money to fund a life of service rather than a life of ease.
Wesley: Make all the money you can; save all you can; to do all the good you can.
Being a disciple is making a commitment that all that we have is God’s and we are intrusted with the responsiblity of doing God’s good work with all we have.
God knows we need material things, we living in the physical bodies God has made for us. Our bodies and things are not bad. BELIEVING they are our value, work and meaning becomes our God.
Cut it out because it too hard!
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The Hard life of Discipleship is Costly living.
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
- Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow,
- and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
- It is costly because it costs a man his life,
- and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
- It is costly because it condemns sin,
- and grace because it justifies the sinner.
- Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,”
- and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
- Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
- Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
- What do our relationships need most of all
- What does our daily life look like if not like Jesus
- What does our life feel like if we lay Christ aside for something new?
- Are we possessed by that which cannot love or save us?
What does it cost to not be a disciple?
- What does it cost to not seek a faith family’s support
- What does it cost to not let Jesus shine and show
- What does it cost to stop in the middle the race?
- What does it cost to invest in that which cannot love?