Archive for category 5 Practices

Psalm 146: 1- 10 “Put No Trust in Princes”

earth puzzle

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD! [NRSV]

It is one thing to complain about division in the world; it is another to offer the solution.

Praise the Lord! Is the solution.

Serve the Lord! Is the solution.

Share the Lord! Is the solution.

Our culture and intellect has pressed diligently from every direction to belittle, dis-empower, and reject God and our faith in God, all the while replacing God’s purpose for creation and humanity with a chaos of something “other”, “non-” or “the anti/pro” or some lowest common denominator of the strongest voice or wealthiest player.

It is actually not a new behavior: Look at Psalm 53:1 NIV

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

The fruit of cultivating a culture without God returns us to chaos, destruction, and emptiness.

  • When the world is in chaos, turn to the one who orders life and light out of chaos.
    • Praise the Lord instead.
  • When the political boxing area calls for title fights,
    • Praise the Lord instead.
  • When we think about placing hope OR blaming trust in someone who is one breath away from their last breath,
    • Praise the Lord instead!
  • When God is the one breathes that breath of life into us all.
    • Praise the Lord!!

Happiness is found by those who have faith in the Lord. The Lord who gives structure to life, and good – justice and faith. Vs 6

Happy, joyful and at-peace are the who find God’s purpose as our purpose.. it is the puzzle piece finding its part in the wholeness when it finds its place in the puzzle’s place and not in its own empty box.

We hear Jesus’s words from the New Testament in the verses 7-8. The core of what we know as the Great Commission for disciples: Giving Justice to the oppressed, food the hungry, freedom for those in prison, vision/insight to the blind. In verse 9 we hear Jesus’s word from the Sermon on the Mount calling for the humble to be lifted up and to care for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

Political Talk / Silence

First, we talk too much about politics.  Don’t let this be an excuse to avoid politics, but think of it this way, for every hour you spend reading and listening to news and editorials about politics, spend two hours in prayer, bible study and serving others in the name of Jesus Christ.

For those who want to avoid the reality of conflict and controversy but not listening to any news, time trying to ignore the conversations, spend twice that time reading the bible, praying and serving others in Jesus name.

For those who think this invitation is speaking to someone more than yourself, then its time for a wakeup call and spend three times as much effort praying, studying and serving others for the purposes of Jesus Christ.

Exercise for Healing

  • Turn off the TV, social media and get face to face with the people of God and study the word
  • Turn off the worry and fear and model for the world what it means to have faith in the chaos.
  • Turn off the excuses and silence and let your service and worship clearly point to Christ in the world.

Jesus said he was the Way and the Truth. Following Jesus and you bring light to what is dark and evil. Follow the way of princes and political parties and their way leads to a cliff, not a wall.

Hear the core of this Psalm: Our hope is in the Lord, Praise the Lord.

Bottom line: praise the Lord who is

  • strong enough,
  • gracious enough and is
  • the salvation of all generations.

The world is telling us today that, our voice and our place, we are not only wrong, but they are also bold enough to say we are oppressive, abusive and wrong.

The Struggle:

  • If the world does not trust prayer, we must intercede until they do.
  • If the world does not trust scripture, we must read, listen and follow until they do.
  • If the world does not listen to our songs of praise, sing until they do.
  • If the world does not love as Christ loves, then love until they do.
  • If the world does not follow and find its pieces fitting into God’s puzzle and plan, then find your place and invited the pieces next to you to find their hearts true home and fit.

Be the praise, Be the voice, Be the Word, Be the presence. Be the witness. Be the song. Be the church.

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Mark 10:35-45

ServeFirst
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”  And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;  but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.  So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]
One of the greatest threats to the church is the perception of belonging. The church does not belong to us, it belongs to God. We are the church, in Christ Jesus.
Without Jesus we are only a community organization of people attempting to show kindness for some self-serving reasons. That is not the church. Jesus came to serve us. In living, dying, rising Christ serves us as example for living, gracious salvation and eternal life: All this done as witness of God’s love for us.
A dangerous position is for us to think of how the church serve us. We ask is the church meeting my needs? Is it doing my job of parenting? Is it entertaining my attention? Am I getting a good return on my investment of tithes and offerings? Do I get enough attention, power and support?
If we ever ask ourselves any of these questions above, we are not serving Christ.
Jame and John have been following Jesus, going where Jesus sends them, attending worship and study with Jesus, they have been doing whatever he needed. They felt they had earned a “point-of-privilege.”
The powerful relevance of the church is lost when we IN the church switch places from serving to being served.
This comes at every age and level of participation. For life-time members, we feel we have earned a place for others to serve — its time for to receive the fruit of our labors. For visitors and our newest members we are just getting connected and others should make a way for us. As children and youth, our parents and grand parents and other ‘grown-ups’ should do for us. If you have ever thought, the minister/preacher/pastor should do this or that.. most likely it is a place God is calling you to serve.
Tommye McCoy, a forty-four year Christian Education Minister taught me the secret of the ordain ministry: You should do 100% of what God calls you to do and 90% of what the church expects you to do.
So here we are. We introduced our new “2 Mile” ministry goal. We are claiming the responsibility to reach out to the over 1000 people who live within 2 miles of our address.
Our ministry will ultimately be to serve Jesus Christ with these persons in two primary ways: 1) Prayer, and 2) Service.
We are going to model an introductory conversation this morning  (call on leaders to help)
1. Member: Knock/Ring “Hello my name is “John” I am a member of Rock Spring UMC and we would like to pray for you today. Is there something you would like for us to pray with you about something? some need? some concern?
Neighbor: Yes. My husband is having surgery  /  No. I have a church
Member: We would love to pray for him. What is his name and when is the surgery?  /            We are glad you have a church, we are only wanting to pray today, if you like
Neighbor: His name is Henry, it’s next Tuesday.  /  No thank you,
Member:   Let’s pray right now. “Jesus, we lift Henry to you today and pray for his surgery. We pray for the doctors and nurses and all will give him care. Fill him with your Holy Spirit as we pray for his healing and wholeness today. Amen  /  I will share this with our prayer team right away.
2. Member: Is there something we can do to serve you today?
Neighbor:  No, thank you  / Yes,  Can you bring my mail in from the mail box, pick up a paper, rake my leaves, Can you give my husband and I a ride to the hospital on Tuesday.
Member:  I’d love to help.  /  I’m not available Tuesday but I will find someone at the church, may I call you this afternoon when I find a ride? What is the best number to call?
Neighbor: Great, here is my number   /   No, get off my porch and don’t come back!
Member: Bless you!
Member –> update the office with the prayer, and find some people to help serve, x 1000 neighbors.  [200 members each contacting 5 neighbor in the next 12 months.]
In this process we are SHOWING Christ to our neighbors
In this ministry we are reminding each other that our work as Christians is to serve
In this reaching out, we show the world around us GOD at work.
In this service, we trust the Holy Spirit to lead, protect and empower us.
We are going to practice today and for the next several weeks.
Some of you will reach out to people door to door
Some of you can call on the phone
Some of you will talk with people wherever to are or travel
Some of you will be ready to prayer
Some of you will be ready to drive, rake, clean, feed, shop, visit, sit, paint or more
Some of you will help up stay organized in this process
Some of you will help us follow up with our neighbors.
ALL OF US need to SHARE this ministry.
We all know that our Denomination and all our churches are headed for some rocky and rough weather, rather than sit here and wait for trouble…
WE ARE GOING TO BE THE CHURCH
We are going to witness being the body of Christ
We are going to serve and pray
We are going to depend on EVERY member to help in this ministry
We are going to hold each other in prayer and accountability.
And when we are done with this ministry. We are going to celebrate how God has used us to multiply loaves and fishes.
We are going to share stories of how people’s lives are set free in Christ
We are going to look forward to all that God has in store for us in the years ahead.
We are going to SHOW Rock Spring and the world that Jesus Christ lives in us!
Are you with me.

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Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018 Matthew 2:7-12

Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. [NRSV]

I have such wonderful memories of racing out from Emerson to Euharlee and trying to beat the long coal train heading to-and-from the Bowen. It is so good to be back. I have been here on a cold and snowing morning when it was only two, and no more and we had Good Preaching. So I hope that is the case today. I am proud to see the growth of the ministries and good work at Oak Grove and am honored to be with you today.

I began to think back about the years I was pastor, student and neighbor. The years would have been between 1985 and 1989. Some remarkable things happened while we were in ministry together:

• The infamous “New Coke” was released, The Titanic found, The first report of Mad Cow disease

• and Madonna was holding the place Taylor Swift holds today. Michael Jackson released his “Bad” album and MTV actually played music videos.

• The Kroger in Cartersville and Town Center Mall opened. The news of the Atlanta Olympics was

• The movies out during that time included: Back to the Future, Top Gun and Dirty Dancing

• Some notable songs were: Walk like an Egyptian, The theme from Phantom of the Opera, and We are the World.

• Imagine back to the time of the start of the Internet, the first Game Boy and Nintendo, The first intel processor and MS Office and Windows debuted.

• We were witnesses of Haley’s comet, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and removal of the Berlin Wall with Mr Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.

• People were watching: “The Cosby Show”, “Cheers”, “Hill Street Blues”, Johnny Carson, Magnum PI and the start of the Simpsons.

We are not the same people today. The world has changed and is changing in a whirlwind of transformation. As our denomination looks ahead to the Winter of 2019 we know that more change is to be expected.

As important it is to look back and remember from where we have come, it is the witness of the magi that call us to look to the present and prepare for the future.

I have always found it remarkable that the Bible contains the story of people of faith who look for God in the movement of the starts, in a distant country with a different culture and perspectives and yet God is self-revealing in all creation.

I had a conversation with young man in his mid-twenties who was convinced that there was no need for God. The wonders and marvels of creation were but the finely tuned change of random variables that brought him more peace and “common sense” to his perspective. I asked him from where did the forces of gravity, fission, fusion, physics, mathematic and love evolve. He uncomfortably had no clear answer except to say they were only explained as observations that followed rather than formed the universe. He left the conversation and went home the same person. I hope that some of the conversation helped change his fears and desire to control rather than to follow and trust.

We live in a divided culture that is more segregated than at any moment in our lifetimes. The struggles leading through Civil Rights Era and the Civil War are not our finest moments. Now more than ever are we needing to make a life-giving, hope-sharing, love-trusting impact on the world around us.

When I was at Oak Grove I was married to Sarah Jane, who search the Cassville Church for a couple of the years. We enjoyed covered dish dinners, singings, and being with you in worship and in your homes. That is no longer the relationship that shapes my life. She loved the idea of being married much more than being married to me. I didn’t share that at the time, as I was immature and unwilling to share what it mean to fully share what it means to be a community of faith. I finally learned that 1) clergy are people who struggle with marriage too, 2) I’d be happier unmarried or married for a few years than to be miserable for 50 pretending a marriage. 3) I have learned that God’s path for us is only as straight and narrow as our willingness to trust. But grace goes before, with and behind us.

Now I have three children: Susanna at Stanford, Luke at 1st Leu in the AF, and Frances a sophomore studying AP Chinese and my wife Wendy is beginning her second career in Insurance. (If you ever seen the Hot-ones sign, a Hardees star, a Georgia Tourism commercial or a magazine in a plastic bag you have seen her work.) The past ten years we have cared for her parents in our home, her mom having Dementia and her father having Kidney failure, was not the road that we had planned, but God has carried us through a different way that blessed and shaped us profoundly.

Why the Wise-men passage on Home Coming?

During my years at Emerson and Oak Grove, Singer, James Taylor, released a song by David Bailey called, Home By Another Way. David Bailey was the son of a Presbyterian minister. As a fellow preacher’s kid the song resonated with me: Here was a famous hippy trippy ballad rocker singing about a bible verse: Not the paths that typically cross. Listen to the lyrics of his song:

Those magic men the Magi, Some people call them wise, Or Oriental, even kings, Well anyway, those guys

They visited with Jesus, They sure enjoyed their stay, Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme

They went home by another way

Steer clear of royal welcomes, Avoid a big to-do, A king who would slaughter the innocents, Will not cut a deal for you, He really, really wants those presents, He’ll comb your camel’s fur

Until his boys announce they’ve found trace amounts, Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh

Time to go home by another way

Home is where they want you now, You can more or less assume that you’ll be welcome in the end

Mustn’t let King Herod haunt you so, Or fantasize his features when you’re looking at a friend

Well it pleasures me to be here, And to sing this song tonight, They tell me that life is a miracle, And I figured that they’re right, But Herod’s always out there, He’s got our cards on file

It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch, Old Herod likes to take a mile

It’s best to go home by another way

Home by another way

What does it mean to Go Home, by another way?

To God home is hopefully a place of security, grounding and belonging.

Hear the Good News: God’s home, “Oikos”, is with us! With us!

It starts in a garden, it travels in a wilderness, it crosses paths in the crucifixion, it opens through an empty tomb, it blow as the wind around us, and surrounds us.

We are not who were once were:

In Christ we are those who make straight the paths for others

In grasp of the Holy Spirit we are those who open hearts and conversations

In the love of God we are those who God is creating new life and ways of living.

I regret that I must leave without a longer visit but I am leading a class for the district to build our skills in sharing Difficult Conversations as churches and church folks. As I look back on the Roads and Paths that God has lead, carried, and immersed me, I see at:

• Oak Grove taught me that God can take a mustard seed an make something grand and purposeful beyond our dreams.

• Grant Park I learned from one of the most diverse congregations in the Southeast what it means to share love

• In some other congregations I learned what looks like when we live in fear, pride, greed and worship of self.

• At Candler and Gammon I learned how to prepare for God to use me in changing ministry conditions.

• At Rock Spring I am ready to see how God will lead us into being a relevant part of the body of Christ in the 21st century.

The message I have received from much prayer, much prayer, much study, much conversation, much reflection, writing and reading is this:

1. Change is to be assuredly expected. (It is ok to embrace change, WHEN God leads us.)

2. What will be has not yet been revealed.

3. But when it is revealed: Count on seeing Jesus or not seeing at all.

• Therefore it is all important to make our home in God who does not change.

• Therefore it is essential that we find our way through what has been revealed.

• Therefore it is our purpose, passion and path to stick with Jesus, not for our sake but for Christ.

God Lord, we give thanks for these and all other blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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Sermon “Wisdom and Finance”  ENOuGH

(Drawn on Adam hamMilton’s Resources for Enough)

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The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want. (Prvb 21:5)

Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise,  but the fool devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)

Where Did All Our Money Go?

FROM LAST WEEK: We must allow 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 restraint. With the help of God, we can

  • simplify our lives and silence the voices constantly telling us we need more.
  • live counter-culturally 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.

Living as prodigals

From Jesus’ description in Luke 15:11-16, we see that the prodigal son had the habits of squandering and spending. The word prodigal does not mean someone who wanders away or is lost. It literally means “one who wastes money.” Many of us struggle with that habit. We’re not worried about tomorrow; we want it today. The problem with that kind of thinking is that, for most of us, the “famine” eventually comes. It comes when we have spent everything we have and even a little bit of next year’s income. So we use the credit card and charge it, and we go a little further into debt. Finally, we come to a place where we have nothing left, not even credit, and we can’t figure out how we are we going to get by.

The more we make, the more we waste.

It seems that the more financially secure we become, the less we worry about spending money here and there. We waste a dollar on this or that, and we forget where it went. Money just seems to flow through our fingers. We’re not as careful with our money as we should be. There are many ways we waste money, but there are two primary money-wasters that many of us struggle with. It is not necessary to eliminate these two things altogether, but we should think more carefully about how we spend our money.

How to avoid impulse buying

  • Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  • Shop only for what you need.
  • Don’t wander down every isle, only go where you need to go. Make a list and stick to it; buy what you need and get out of the store!
  • Consult a trusted person and wait twenty-four hours before following through on an impulse buy.

Number One Area of impulse spending is Eating out

  • The issue is frequency. The average American eats out an average of four times a week.
  • By eating out less frequently, we will have more money to save, to spend on more important things, and to give away.

If you were to simply prepare all meals at home, you’d move 4.2 meals from restaurants to your home. At an average cost of $12.75 per meal, you’d save yourself $8.75 for each of those meals. In other words, the average American would save $36.75 per person per week by moving all of their meals from restaurants to home-prepared meals. If we are eating out more than 4 times a week, we need to evaluate our lifestyle.

Clarifying Our Relationship with Money and Possessions

We do not exist simply to consume as much as we can and get as much pleasure as we can while we are here on this earth. We have a higher purpose. We need to know and understand our life purpose—our vision or mission or calling—and then spend our money in ways that are consistent with this purpose or calling.

Be clear about your purpose and calling.

Our society tells us that our life purpose is to consume—to make as much money as possible and then to spend it. The Bible tells us that we were created to care for God’s creation. We were created to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We were created to care for our families and those in need. We were created to glorify God, to seek justice, and to do mercy. Our money and possessions should be devoted to helping us fulfill this calling. We are to use our resources to help care for our families and others—to serve Christ and the world through the church, missions, and everyday opportunities. We have a life purpose that is greater than our own self-interest, and how we spend our God-given resources reflects our understanding and commitment to this life purpose or mission.

Set worthy goals.

Being able to accomplish the greater purposes God has for our lives requires some measure of planning. Taking the time to set goals related to our lives and our finances is crucial if we are to become wise stewards of our God-given resources. Each of us should think about our life purpose and goals and then identify two short-term financial goals, two mid-range financial goals, and two long-term financial goals that are aimed at helping us accomplish our broader life goals. At least one goal in each category should relate specifically to our faith. (Suggestion: Use the bulletin insert “My Life and Financial Goals Worksheet” in 3. Communication Resources.)

The Discipline of Managing Your Money

Adopt/Review your budget and spending plan.

Once we’ve set some financial goals, we need to develop a plan to meet those goals. A budget is a spending plan that enables us to accomplish our goals. Some people use an envelope system to help them manage their saving and spending and stay on budget. Others use a variety of different approaches. Many people find it helpful to seek the advice of a financial advisor. For those who find themselves in the midst of a financial crisis, a financial counselor can help arrange terms with creditors and develop a workable financial plan. Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is simply to have a plan.

Follow six financial planning principles.  (Ramsey Model or others)

The following financial planning principles can help us manage our money with wisdom and faith:

  1. Pay your tithe and offering first.
  2. Create a budget and track your expenses.
  3. Simplify your lifestyle (live below your means).
  4. Establish an emergency fund.
  5. Pay off your credit cards, use debit cards for purchases, and use credit wisely.
  6. Practice long-term savings and investing habits.

What can we do?       Simple Truths:

  • Seek God’s wisdom,
  • Listen to the wisdom of those who are trustworthy,
  • hold one another accountable* (See Goal Setting Worksheet)
  • Remember we are created out of generous love and
  • We are called to live generously

Closing Prayer

God, you know all about us, even when we don’t. We don’t know where every dime went, but somehow you know what we did with all that we had, last year and every other year. You don’t forbid us from having joy in our possessions; in fact, you delight in our having joy. But what you know is that simply acquiring more stuff isn’t where we find joy. Lord, forgive us for being wasteful, for being prodigal. Forgive us for leveraging our future in order to have pleasure in the present. And help us to be good managers of the talents that you’ve given us. Help us to be generous and willing to share, kingdom-minded and focused on accomplishing your purposes for our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*Worksheet Questions

My Life and Financial Goals

How would you define or describe your life purpose?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

What are some goals that can help you achieve this life purpose?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

What are some financial goals that can help support your life goals and purpose?

______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________

Short-term financial goals (next 12 months):

1. _______________________________________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Mid-range financial goals (2–5 years):

1. _______________________________________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Long-term financial goals (5 years to retirement):

1. ______________________________________________________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________________________________________________

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

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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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2-Corinthians 4:1-9 (3-6) Shine the Light of Christ

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. [NRSV]

Give light to the glory of God in the face of Jesus

Shining light OUT of darkness

The power of Darkness is real

• There is darkness in the oppression of the people of North Korea.

• There is darkness in the cycles of human trafficking

• There is darkness in the evil of terrorism

• There is darkness in the homes of those abused and batters

• There is darkness in the rollercoaster of addictions

• There is darkness that divides us into opposing camps

• There is darkness in the face of cancer and other diseases

• There is darkness in the loneliness and grief of loss

• There is darkness in broad daylight

• There is darkness in middle of some crowded places

• There is darkness in churches, homes and hearts among us.

And when we stand alone and even if we stand together, we are over whelmed as the ocean waves crash upon the best castle of our design and labors.

It seems like retreat and apathy rule the day and the hour and the years..

But that is when we look at darkness without the light of Christ

God is the Power Company

God so loved this broken work that he sent the only light strong and bright enough to overcome the darkness.

Our task is not to stop evil,

Our task it is cling to Christ upon the stormy sea, and from THAT place of strength and assurance: that Jesus Christ has been unveiled and revealed through us!

We step into the raging seas because

1. That is the reality of where we are

2. This is where we might best see Christ

3. This is when we and the world need hope and salvation more nearly.

We clothe, feed, comfort, and befriend because it is Christ at work in us..

We pray for healing and wholeness in Jesus’s name because God is the source

We stand with Christ because these bodies we carry suffer, and eventuality die.

We ride the rollercoaster of struggle because life fluid and always testing

We trust Christ when to step in to stop others from harm

We trust Christ when to step back and no longer remain oppressed and abused

We trust that we are powerless over evil, fear, terror, and all sin without Christ

Jesus Christ came to save sinners..

We are those who have seen light light

Jake and Elwood Blues go to James Brown’s ole Landmark Church and after hearing the good news Jake proclaims that he has seen the light of how to save the soon to be closed orphanage that was his childhood home… I can’t say that what follows is Gods work but they end up saving the children’s home even though they go back to jail.

This cult classic movie tells two truths

1. God can work through every situation for God purpose

2. When we put our name on God’s home work we are going to fail.

3. Our mission is to tell of God’s work.

Encourage one another in shining the light of Christ

What are you going to say when politics fuel start to burn you up?

Say this: “Instead of debating, fighting or disagreeing with you, I need you to pray for me to love my enemies”

• If someone is hurting, struggling, complaining, as them “how long are you going to keep working on that alone when Jesus is ready to be your strength?” E ready to be strong with that person.

• If someone is grieving or afraid, or alone, “ how long do you want to feel lost?” Offer to be Christ’s presence.

• You make ready your own conversations that lead and encourage one another to lean into, trust, stand-with Jesus.

Be the flash light, candle. lantern, headlights, spotlight, laser,… you don’t have to be the light, be the one who directs and reflects the light of Jesus Christ

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1 Corinthians 9:16-23 By all means for the Gospel, really?

allthings

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. [NRSV]

Learn this phrase: I’m ready to Share Christ wherever, with whomever, however, because of God’s love is forever.

We order a sandwich or burger — “All the Way” and the waiter/tress or specialist asks, do want than with cheddar or swiss cheese? What does all mean?

We pay one price and go to the Chinese buffet and have the opportunity to eat “All you can eat”. My favorite is the Shrimp special at Red Lobster. After you eat the first fried shrimp they ask you would like to “put in another order” for more, they bring you six more. That’s all they hope you will eat. The same is true at IHOP on all you can eat pancake days, Here are two and we will bring you two more, again, hoping that is all you order. Somewhere in the formula of ‘value’, we have some magic number of shrimp, pancakes, crab legs or egg rolls that equate to “All”.

The solution is to avoid the buffet in the first place, but we are surrounded and enticed by the invitation to find it all, have it all, and eat it all.

Others are not tempted by food but are well acquainted with completing a collection. All the tools in the set, all the pieces in the puzzle, all the cards, glasses, figures, dishes or designs in the series. There is a driving force to amass ‘all’ things..

Paul is again offering his example as direction for us all. But this model of “All things” is a slippery slope.

  • All things fits with our culture and lifestyle
  • All things fits with the Walmart, Lowes, Bass Pro, model
  • All things fits with Amazon and the internet of all things.

Paul offers his example of reaching out to all people in ways that relate and are meaningful to them, and in that place of connection, he finds ways to share the life and power of Jesus Christ. But in this hermeneutical junctions, it is easy to lose our way.

  • Have all things
  • Be all things
  • Do all things

Instead of “All things..for Christ”  (Stay in on the good path of all things / all means that lead us to Christ.

  • Vs use all I have for Christ
  • Vs be available to all persons for Christ
  • Vs do not let things keep me from sharing Christ
  • Social pressures
  • Scientific pressures
  • Selfish pressures

So be warned that we don’t go so far out the door that we forget the way that leads back to Christ, but we go far enough to meet people where they are.

Jew or Greek, slave or free, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, tall or short, young or old, deserving and undeserving — Jesus Christ died for sinners like us all.

The challenge is to answer this:

With whom am I being called to share Jesus Christ today?

How far will I go to share Christ with them in a way that is meaningful and genuine to THEM?

  • If I am playing it safe,
  • saving for a raining day,
  • relying on the faithful and successful hard work I’ve done in the past.

Who will reach this person/s if not me, who and if today, when?

The power of Paul’s model is that every day, everywhere I look or go, is a day to share Christ with someone.

So with whom and how will I do this at home? at work? at school? in travels? in my recreation? in my hobbies? in my sufferings? in my study? in my service?

Be prepared to Share Christ wherever, with whomever, however, because of forever.

tell that to your neighbor:

I’m ready to Share Christ wherever, with whomever, however, because of God’s love is forever.

if you don’t mean it, Paul is calling us to cease the opportunities around us.

if you do, then your words are liturgy of praise and celebration.

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Mark 1:21-28 Living with Authority

capernaum

They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. [NRSV]

Capernaum was home to the alternate to the Jerusalem temple for the people in the Galilean region to come and worship. It was also the home of Peter and near where the Jordan River emptiness into the sea of Galilee and also need the area where the Sermon on the Mountain was delivered to the gathers of ten thousand.

In some ways, Capernaum was the home to Contemporary worship and Jerusalem home to traditional worship. Jerusalem was a small big urban centre and Capernaum was a big little town for fishers and farmers. Jerusalem was an urban hub of politics and religion.

Mark’s newspaper-like account of the story of Jesus connects Jesus spiritual cleansing as a new teaching:

Everywhere from Jerusalem to Galilee and all places between folks had folks filled with spiritual dysfunction, possession, strange physical illness, mentally ill, all sorts of manifestation that get lumped into ‘filled with evil spirits. The typical remedy was for people to live outside the city wall as “UNCLEAN” and people separated themselves from what they could not change and could not mend.

Jesus silenced the evil, removed the evil and restored the man to health and into the community. It reminds me of the character, Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women:

Julia: “I’m saying this is the South, and we’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them up in the attic. We bring ’em right down to the living room and show ’em off. See, Phyllis, no one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they’re on.”

Phyllis: Oh? And which side are yours on Mrs Sugarbaker?

Julia: Both. (Southern Living article: 13 of Julia Sugarbaker’s Best Takedowns on Designing Women, https://www.southernliving.com/culture/julia-sugarbaker-designing-women-quotes)

The perspective of the community was that Jesus was teaching something new, drew on a different authority and was something worth sharing with other people.

  • New will only get us so far before we need “new and improved”
  • We will share all kinds of news with other people, good and bad
  • The different piece is authority

Authority: is approved use of power.

The Good News is that Jesus entrusted to disciples and now to us through the Spirit, the authority of God as the church.

  • As the chur, h we have allowed politics to steal our authority.
  • We have let historical misuse of the power defame our authority.
  • We have allowed others who use God’s power for evil to speak for us unchallenged.
  • With so many speaking evil in the name of truth…

These other voices say: you don’t even need to talk about your faith because you don’t have anything to do with us.” Have you come to destroy us?

Jesus was about silencing evil and allowing the people of God to speak.

A restoring of authority.

  • Remind your neighbor, you have the AUTHORITY, the power: to prayer, love, forgive, heal, bless, teach, restore, trust, lead, witness, and many more things.
  • Is this the week you remain quiet and blame evil or is this the time you speak grace, love and truth and healing and all the other witnesses of God’s power through you?
  • Living as one with authority, don’t just possess a spiritual carry-permit, speak the word that restore the kingdom of God. This is our work, this is our mission.

God in the power and authority of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit: Make disciples, speak truth to evil, transform instead of blame, heal instead of complain, love instead of divide. show of the power of God, Evil does not have the authority it claims in outlives, speak God’s healing word.

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Phillipians 1:21-30 Share Faith: Progress in Joyful Faith.

difficultJoy

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them, this is evidence of their destruction but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. [NRSV]

I’ve Got my ticket, Who Cares if you have yours?

One of the reasons that we find to justify why to NOT share our faith is summed up in the thought: “I figured it out, they can too.”

“They have the bible to read.”

“They could have gone to church.”

“They should have made other choices.”

“It’s their choice/fault/responsibility/issue.”

Paul acknowledging an affirmation we need to remember: Through Christ, we have salvation. While salvation is a ticket to heaven, it is not a pass from suffering.

The joy of finding Salvation ourselves is that we have the most wonderful and appropriate gift to share with those who are suffering.

Even though life is not easy, we have hope beyond this life, we have encouragement in this life, and we know how to love when everyone else is [Hobbes:] is selfish, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. T

In Jesus Christ, we have Joy knowing our future is more certain than our past and present and that What God has done for us in Christ and what God’s Spirit is doing through us now.

We live in the assurance of our place in heaven AND in the assurance that even though we might be experiencing hell on earth, we continue here to help each other progress in JOY and in FAITH.

We don’t want to be like Lot’s wife, don’t look back.

The tragedy in Las Vegas shows how broken one person’s mental illness can affect hundreds of others.

The tragedy of flooding in Texas, Peurto Rico, Culebra, Florida and again now in the gulf, the earthquakes in Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand; the nastiness in social media and divisive words, accusations and assumptions upon people’s character, the threats of war from

When the signs say run.

With melting glaciers, erupting volcanos, multiple hurricanes, and storms,

When we heart of attacks, wars, rumors of wars, and see people value political principle above God’s, when people would rather blame and attack rather than forgive and love.

It is no wonder we feel the call to be “traveling on”

I feel like traveling on,

My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
No pain nor death can inner there I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on I feel like traveling on
My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
Its glittering towers the sun outshines I feel like traveling on
That heavenly mansion shall be mine I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…
The Lord has been so good to me I feel like traveling on
Until that blessed home I see I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…

Written by J. R. Baxter, William Hunter • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group, Popularized by Loretta Lynn, All Time Gospel Favorites.

The Reason for Staying and Standing In (Why doesn’t Vanderbilt call the game at half-time?)

If everyone who believed in Jesus left and went to heaven how would those who doubt, question, reject and run the other way have a chance?

We remain to encourage others.

We remain to enjoy each other’s company

We remain to strengthen each other faith

We remain to be that light on a dark night

Stay without Standing Still

Paul see’s the importance of sticking with people who are difficult, sticks in the mud and working with persistence for some measure of progress.

Joy is the passion that we are making a difference in a broken world

I’ve not reached my goal, but at least I’m making progress.

Joy in the progress

Celebrate the advances in what is Godly

Remember where we see God is faithful

Highlight where we experience the Holy Spirit showing up

Continue to call and challenge each other to progress.

Progress in Faith, Progress in Joy, Progress in Sharing

If you go-to story of faith is over a year old, we have not progressed in faith since that time.

We affirm the historic ways we meet God, but let’s be about the business of progressing, even where it weary, dry and difficult.

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Matthew 16:21-28 “Worth the Journey”

mywaygodsway

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 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? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [NRSV]

Making Disciples: What is a life worth?

A very difficult thing asked of me was after mom’s death, from being hit in a head-on car accident was to give a value of her life. The attorney asked my brother and me, what was the value of mother’s life for the court case. To come up with a number for the judge. The determination was to be made on what her contributions to the common good would be. The value of her reading to middle school students, mentoring graduate school students, visiting in prison ministry, writing Sunday school lessons, volunteering at her church, and the impact would have a neighbor and citizen. If one were compensated for volunteering at a reasonable rate a figure could be determined for the projected number years she would likely live to serve and that number came to roughly $200,000. But was that value of her life? The young man who drove his uninsured luxury car into her had no assets, and his family had twenty-six previous suits against them, so the final assessment of her life was valued at 1000 hours of community service and no dollars. Is that justice? Is this how God measure our lives? For me, it was a life lesson about the misplaced value of one’s life.

What is your life worth to God?

  • You are worth the life of his only child,
  • You are worth designing energy, matter, gravity, physics, and mathematics,
  • You are worth sharing a relationship with God.
  • God has paid for our life, but does not force us to pay God back,
  • God offers a way to joy, peace, and wholeness, yet wants us to want to appreciate, trust and follow.
  • God says your life is worth it all, hoping you will choose the life God paid for you to live.

The journey of our life is about what we do with the time we have: Choosing God or humanity as our highest goal.

Discipleship: It Ain’t Easy

  • Peter declares: God forbid it to be difficult, hard, challenging, unpleasant or demanding
  • Jesus responds, Get away your evil thoughts away from me.
  • It is evil lived from only a human point of view.

Remembering we are Spiritual People in a Physical Incubator.

There are times that we make following Jesus even harder,

this is a charge against the church if we hold the keys and call the shots for what it means to follow, then there is room for abuse

Jesus models choosing God’s call for his life or the voice of emotions and reason alone.

Peter says: Don’t take the hard path, choose the path most traveled.

Sometimes things get in the way of our best plans:

A story about a country farmer who had a mule with blocked-up plumbing, he called the new veterinarian in town to come help. The young vet had a bottle of large laxative pills that modeled the phrase, ‘horse pill’ that was fast acting and guaranteed to unstop the most stubborn gastric stoppages. He found a long piece of pipe with a contraption to secure one end into the mouth of the mule and the other end he would insert the pill and make certain the pill went right to work. He secured the pipe and straps around the mule, added two horse pills, took a deep bread, but the ass blew first.

Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block

setting one’s mind on human things instead of divine things

Pray right now!

ACTION: “Lord, forgive me for being a stumbling block..”

  • Disciples recognize that life devoted to Jesus is greater than the life we can make without him. (justice)
  • Disciples recognize that life is a gift and God gives us a choice to use our life as we choose. (freedom)
  • Disciples recognize God desires good for us but does not force God on us. (meaningful relationship)
  • Disciples recognize that a good life is not measured by having stuff, or a comfortable life. (worth/value)
  • Disciples recognize God is willing to follow the choice we are called to make. (sacrifice)

Choose God’s self over the self you choose

To follow God is to find:

    • wholeness,
    • justice,
    • freedom,
    • meaningful relationship,
    • worth, value and
    • sacrifice.

in 2017 We live in mountain top period of thinking that is human focused.

  • What is best for humanity, the majority, the minority
  • What is best for me and those like me
  • My right and the right of others to choose what it good and right
  • It’s my life, my decisions, my definition, my right, my understanding, my dream, my ideal

When we exclude God or even allow God to slip into second place, we choose with the best of humanity has to offer, but without the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God.

When hearing this when others say things like: (Human limitations)

  •   Love me or accept me for choosing myself
  •   It is my life, my will
  •   Accept me for choosing my own way,
  •   Accept me for believing the common denominator is our safest place.
  •   Shame on you for not accepting my choice made from my perspective.

The court of public opinion may have the majority of human perspective and still miss the mind and heart of God.

   Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen, is telling Jesus,

     you know what is best for yourself,

     we don’t want to see you suffer

     You have God powers, just zap trouble out of your way,

The Heart of the passage: Losing and Finding

finding ourselves in following Jesus

The Journey of sharing our faith is affirmed where our trust, faith, and allegiance is grounded.

Faith means we see that for all you and I can do, we never can do enough on our own

Trust God means we know we are awesome creations with great minds and dreams, but without God death is our worst limitation.

Walking with Christ, we bring together the best of being human into a relationship with God.

Choosing a different path is ends in trusting what is evil, broken, limited, empty and apart from God.

How many people do you know today who have:

evil rules in their lives?

experience brokenness in their bodies, relationships, minds, and hearts?

find themselves living at the limits or out of bounds on a daily basis?

someone who feels lost and empty and distant from God and God’s people?

These are the people who need the gift of Christ that guides us..

  1. Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
  2. Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
  3. Step three for today: acknowledge it is not easy, and we need Christ to lead, bless, carry, push and call us on.

Let’s get to the journey today

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