Archive for category #freedom
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 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. [NRSV]
There are a variety of places and moments where I have come to know God most clearly:
Scripture and Songs
Birth and death
Glisson and Churches
Fellowship and Art
It is vital to cultivate the number of people places and moments that we more clearly see and experience God.
When we are in times and periods of drought it is helpful to have places to see reconnecting and renewal.
How to I find God revealed? Go looking where others have found God
Spiritual disciples and practice
Worship and study
When we place ourselves as vulnerable and willing to know God we more clearly experience God
Unfortunately we hold on until we are in a mess, end of resources, spiritual or physically bankrupt that we are forced to be open to God.
So help by taking off the veil, removing the layers and be present before God:
Unveiled. Seeing truth > knowing the presence, reality of God
- power and
- freedom in God
What we find in God is
- the hunger of our spirit
- The strength to move foreword
- The freedom to trust and share
Being the nerdy trek fan I love to hear the captain say to the crew, “engage!”
- Or make it so
- The words in each day of creation were So be it,
- These words declare authority and commitment as a call to action
God called Moses, spoke through Jesus and calls us to action and faith as well
Our ministry of reflecting God’s light, love and grace
- Engaged I this ministry : do not loose heart
- Renounce Shameful things:
- Not falsify God’s word :
Open statement of truth : speak and seek the truth
Commended ourselves : invest in connecting
to the conscience of everyone in God : awareness that God desires us all.
We draw to close the season of Epiphany with the call to use the gifts entrusted to us to be used to show the world
- God work,
- claim and
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:
- meaningful relationship,
- worth, value and
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..
- Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
- Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
- 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
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. [NRSV]
Imagine having a four-hour walk home?
Travel experiences: WALKING
- We walk from our homes to our cars to parking lots to our destinations.
- We might walk for “race-for-a-t-shirt” or
- a fund or awareness event to show support
- we might walk to exercise for health
- we might walk on a hike to see the view
- What about walking to be spiritual present with someone?
Many would say that’s not for me.
[Note: Honestly, I am not sure why mini-pilgrimages have not been the tradition on Easter afternoon?]
- Maybe walk home from church on Easter?
- Or, walk back to church Easter Sunday evening for communion?
Travel Stories can be very powerful.
When we travel with someone, we have concentrated time together.
- Have your ever recounted funny, interesting or challenging events?
- Past vacation?
- Meet new friends who were strangers on a previous vacation. The Hymian’s
- Events that happened where you are passing on the road?
- Anticipating what will happen when we arrive at our destination?
- Sharing common adventures
If you had four hours travel time. How would you use that time in your car?
Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?
If it did, What verses would you turn to reveal Jesus to a stranger?
Before we get to Bible verses:
- Some people are better at striking up a conversation than others.
- Some people are slow of heart to believe.
- Some people know the details of the story yet they doubt or are still searching.
A: There is not one verse that reaches and convinces or convicts all people.
A: Some people are uncomfortable discussing their faith and spiritual life
A: I’m uncomfortable when people talk about their faith with it is different from mine.
A: Isn’t it more polite to not be pushy.
Question: What is Jesus’ model?
- He is observant, see’s the sadness and disappointment
- He is inquisitive, asking for clarification
- He is instructional, drawing on scripture to transform the sadness and disappointment.
- He is well studied, and well prepared to share.
One Easter Sunday, the first appearance of Jesus is modeling what disciples are called to do.
When the words are not enough, he resorts to actions.
There is a problem with the saying: “Your Actions may be the only Gospel someone sees”.
- It assumes we have the heart of God in all our actions
- It assumes how we act always reflects God
- It assumes we are intentional about modeling our faith in all situations.
- It assumes we know why we do the things we do in the name of Christ.
All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.
I need to know the core of my faith before I rely on actions only.
Think of Train leaving the tracks
If I see the resurrection as God’s ultimate victory over death and complete sacrifice of love for you and for me and name that as the core of my understand of LOVE:
If someone says, I love peanut butter or I love you if you agree with my world view, then are they talking about the same LOVE?
Which do we value more?
God’s heart or our freedom?
God’s word or our comfort?
God’s grace or our opinions?
God’s hope or our answers?
God’s patience or our resourcefulness?
God’s work or our work?
God’s love or
Bottom Line: Easter people need to know the scriptures, AND be ready to show them in action, AND meet people at Christ’s table.
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.
- Ideas don’t get hungry
- theories don’t need to eat
- collections of stories and moral teaches don’t need physical nourishment.
- We are more than our physical needs
- We are more than our material posessions
- We are more than the health of these bodies
- We are more than the suffering of this present age
- We are Spiritual people, child of God, joint heirs, brother/sisters with Jesus, God’s people, God’s family.
- Jesus keeps showing up, directing us to OUR purpose.
- We need the signs just like everyone else.
- We need reminding and encouragement
- We need Jesus to show us the same old story because our doubts and fears are real.
- let go
- look away
- taste other fruit
- break the commandments
- are unfaithful individually AND collectively
- THESE are the FAITH STRUGGLES in the OT, NT, and today.
The base and foundation of our relationship is expressed in the Gracious give and take of
REPENTANCE: God loves us so much we know we can ask and God will forgive.
FORGIVENESS: God loves us so much, when we ask, God sees our change of heart and forgives.
We mess us… See list above… and offers of Forgiveness when we repent, turn around.