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Archive for category Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-21 Peter: Drunk or Driven? 20160514 RSUMC

bloodmoonWhen the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,

because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.‘ [NRSV]

Prophecy: In the last days..

Jesus instructed the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit, Comforter, to empower them. In Acts Chapter 2 we see the Holy Spirit Revealed. Peter begins explaining the scene in the context of the prophet Joel. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples this would be in last days.

Remember how Peter had the great idea to build monuments on the mountain of Transfiguration to remember Jesus, Moses and Elijah being revealed. God interrupts and says, “Listen.”
Remember how Peter promises to proclaim Jesus, even to the point of death and Jesus corrects him, no you will deny me three times tonight.
Remember how Jesus hears the Good News of the Resurrection from Mary and does not believe her, but runs to see the tomb for himself, and leaves not finding Jesus, only the empty grave.
Peter selecting a less than accurate passage from the Old Testaments prophets to make sense of the tounges of fire and the understanding of the Good News through different languages.

The Joel passage is similar to what Peter, the disciples and the great crowd of strangers experience that day. The part that Peter points is the Spirit’s presence being revealed through, men and women, slave and free, young and old.

Some say they are drunk on milky grains, new wine.

This festival, celebration that has brought the crowds into town is also known as the Festival of Weeks. This celebration was a way to serve God by bringing first fruits, the early crops, and waiting for God to provide the full harvest, as a remembrance of when Moses came down from the mountain with the law, the ten commandments. .

The youngest, most tender grains of wheat, barley and fruits like grapes and apples. These would be cooked with the old leaven or yeast and set aside to ferment. At the end of the countdown of seven weeks of seven days, the following, 50th, day would be ‘Pentecost, the 50th day.

So it would not be unreasonable for some to say, the disciples had been drinking the new wine, the freshly fermented beer, cider or wine.

The disciples had not been drinking but they were filled with something else:

The Holy Spirit.
God’s presence was poured out like liquid flames, resting on the disciples, similar to Moses’s burning bush event.

Another mis-understood part of the passage is about speaking in tongues. Actually the text suggests that they were speaking Galilean but the hearers from different regions and foreign lands, heard in thier own native language. Some translations go a step further and say they heard in their own hearts.

So Much for the History Lesson?

What do we learn about the Spirit as a take-away as modern day disciples?

First. The Spirit moves like the wind.
2nd, The power is revealed when they were all together, not a solo event.
3rd, The Spirit worked through the disciples, The disciples were vessels, hose pipes, conductors, channels, God uses to reach others.
4th, The Spirit choose the moment and venue
5th. Not everyone will understand or receive, but those who do, find God alive and at work through our willingness to serve.
Pentecost: A Season of Service

The Weeks of Counting: Are a call to serve God in the weeks ahead.

Our response might be: But school is almost over, it’s vacation time!

It is time to remember God calls us together
It is time count the ways God guides us. Review one commandment a week.
It is time to be available for the Spirit to work through us
It is time celebrate God is will with us. We are spiritual people, saved through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Young and old, Males and Female, Oppressed or Oppressor, God is in Charge

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Reset: The Power of Love 20160131 RSUMC

Heart_MerryChristmas

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]

Do I love that dress?

In a world, where we love mashed potatoes, love our sports teams and love or hate the weather, it is important to spend a moment being clear about love.

This past Christmas Eve, I ran a few errands and saw three stores putting out Valentine season products on the shelf. At first, I was frustrated that we had not officially started Christmas and retailers had moved to the next money grab. But if we stop and think what Christmas is about, God loving us so much that our heavenly father sends his only child to bridge the gap of love that we cannot build nor complete. Maybe a giant heart-shaped box of delicious treasures is better Christmas gift.

Love:  Nothing Gained

ELOQUENT SPEECH: Genuine Love needs no response. That’s hard.

  • If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

CHARISMATIC VISION: Genuine Love sees through a show.

  • If I have prophetic powers,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

INSIGHTFUL COMPREHENSION: Genuine Love is not calculated.

  • If I understand all mysteries
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

MULTIPLE DEGREES IN MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES: Genuine Love has nothing to prove.

  • If I had all knowledge,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

UNWAVERING TRUST and BELIEF: Genuine Love is the core of faith.

  • If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

EXTRAVAGANT SELFLESSNESS: Genuine Love is Forgetful of the score.

  • If I give away all my possessions,
    • but do not have love,
      • I gain nothing.

SACRIFICIAL OFFERING: Genuine Love cannot be faked.

  • If I hand over my body so that I may boast,
    • but do not have love,
      • I gain nothing.

IF, THEN STATEMENTS

  1. Conditional statements about unconditional, foundational core of relationships.
  2. SuperMan/SuperWoman are meaningless without love. Right Action, Wrong Purpose
  3. Love is God’s meaning, purpose, and energy, what we have to gain. Love is God’s power plant
  4. BOTTOM LINE: Without Love all in life is meaningless. Scientific Method can never love. Science is accurate in measuring how, but not why. Love is why. The universe is not so big to make us feel special; it is to show how incredible God is.

The Object of Love NOT loves itself.

LOVE is sacrificial, selfless, extravagant, unwavering, trusting, knowing, insightful, visionary, and charismatic, but the reverse does not necessarily describe love.

The test if Love is love or something else: Does my love stop if Love is not returned?

  • You can take one for the team and not love the team at all.
  • You can act selflessly, seeking approval for your random act of kindness.
  • Your extravagance can become enabling. 
  • You can be “committed” and support something evil
  • You can trust wealth, fame, opinion polls or deeply held principles, but these are based on us, and we inconsistent, fragile and often wrong.
  • You can know many facts but not know how to use information
  • You can misguide judgement selfishly
  • Your visionary work can be selfishly motivated
  • Your charisma or charm can fool people
  • The Object of God’s Love is you. Hear the Good News.. 
    • God’s love is not if, then. God’s love is. God may not like our behavior,
    • God forever loves us.

IS / IS NOT

  • Love is patient; tolerant of us and intolerant of our manipulations
  • Love is kind;      when is the last time we were snippy, rude or down right mean
  • love is not envious;     I want vs. God wants
  • love is not boastful     I’m right, you are wrong
  • love is not arrogant    I know better than you
  • Love is not rude.           Thoughtless or intentionally vindictive
  • Love is not insistent     My way or no way.
  • Love is not irritable      How can I get attention
  • love is not resentful     How come I’m not getting attention
  • love cannot rejoice in wrongdoing,     I told you so
  • love rejoices in the truth.  Admit I am wrong, especially when they are wrong too.
  • (sometimes being truthful is not popular or pleasing)
  • Love endure and hold up through all things,   vs. I will give you one more chance, or no more chances
  • Love believes through all things;     You crossed my line, your out.
  • Love remains hopeful through all things,    We can’t do it, That’s impossible.
  • Love lasts longer than anything else.           I give up

If we are honest, our conversations and actions reveal, while we know what loving is, we are not always loving when it get self-less.

Timeless

  • Love never ends.
  • Prophecies end
  • language ends
  • knowledge ends
  • wealth ends
  • Love never ends.

The Best is Yet to Come

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

We learn to love as children, and it is to mature and grow.

  1. Speaking.. saying I love you.
  2. Thinking— Thinking about
  3. Reasoning   Justifying Love

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

  • Adult love, mature love, doesn’t have, to say it. We are not there yet..
  • Adult love, doesn’t have to plan it and think it through, it is automatic. We calculate..
  • Adult love, doesn’t have to have everything neat. We try to fix, cover up or manage love.
  • When we move toward God’s love, we loose ourselves and more fully enter the heart of God.

For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Love is a work in progress.. try letting your guard down and God through.

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Activate The Super Powers

  1Cor 12:1-12. Intentional Gifts 20160117 RSUMC

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [NRSV]

Means, Purposes, Actions

  • We are spiritual people living in a physical body.  
  • I am more than the features and sum of my parts. 
  • God longs to work through each of us to reach the whole world one relationship at a time. 

varieties of gifts, God works is varied, flexible
varieties of services, God services through us

varieties of activities. God is active, unfolding

The Gifts

  • utterance of wisdom, 
  • utterance of knowledge
  • ..faith
  • ..healing
  • ..working of miracles
  • ..prophecy
  • ..discernment of spirits
  • ..various kinds of tongues
  • ..interpretation of tongues. 

The Assumptions: 

  • We one get one gift, for life.
  • There as only 9 from this text
  • I don’t have a gift

The Confusions: 

  • What I like to do is my gift.
  • If it comes easy, that’s my gift. 
  • If I don’t like it, it’s not my gift.

The Way Through

  • Start where you are. 
  • Gifts are not measures Spiritual maturity, rather of Gods faithfulness to work through us.
  • Be open to differences and changes

God who activates all Gifts

  • Gifts are for Gods work through us.
  • Gifts are not for personal reward, sorry Joel OSteen.
  • Gifts are fore out for the common Good.

SO WHAT!  

Look at the gifts God has surrounded you with right here and now.  

This is one of the big reasons to be part of a church, God is working through each of us. Name, claim and reign

Starting point is here and now: 

I am a spiritual person of God

God has skills and work for me

Ask a God to activate our SpiritualPowers. Sounds okay, but it’s actually cosmic,!

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Luke 21:25-36 Watchfulness 20151129 Advent1 RSUMC

 

Wedding Preps are more than wedding day events“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees;  as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  [NRSV]

 

CAUTION: The Yellow Flag, the Caution triangle, the surgeon general’s official warning.

Key Verse: Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.

  • Be Alert.
  • Pray for strength
  • Be ready to stand before the Son of Man

Advent: Be Alert. The core purpose of the liturgical season of Advent is to make time and make ready our lives for Christ.

It has little to do with #redcups from #starbucks or store’s commercializing the season without the faith-based reason. It ultimately is study time before the test. It is practice driving before getting your drivers’ license. It is the work that leads up to the #retirement time we live the life unencumbered by work. (ideally)

I invite you to join in a series of mini marathons to prepare us for the full #26.2 mile race. I am not a runner at this point in my life. I learned from my DNA research that my people only have a 3% of becoming sprinters. I am certainly in the right family. But I do know that if I was going to self-propel my body in any fashion for 26.2 miles. I am not ready for the race today.

The first word of preparing in our text today is ‘Alert.’

Alertness is a willful, intentional, state of readiness to be either proactive and/or reactive to the situation and circumstances around us.

The rampant increase of acts of terror have raised our alertness to evil in the world. Paris, Mali, Chattanooga and even in our experience. We are cautioned to prepare one another to be watchful. If something is wrong or out of place, then report it, follow up on it and take the information as credible until it is disproved.

This way of daily life is stressful, and it carries the risk of being so cautious that we withdraw or cause injury to ourselves and others. The text affirms that we live in risky times. So learning how to be alert that is appropriate to the level of risk is what our insurance companies help us figure out.

Based on our experience of driving, they determine the degree of risk to cover inevitable accidents and losses we will experience. Every insurance representative would work with drivers, renters and home owners to take proactive precautions to prevent poor impact upon policy payments.

For our spiritual journey and spiritual home, we prepare in similar styles. Be preventive and proactive.

Luke and I have agreed to encourage each other in goal of loosing the same amount of weight. He is loosing muscle, I’m loosing fat. If we wait start until the end of April to meet our goals. We will surely fail.

We both agreed, let ‘s start after Christmas. With all the dinners and parties and festivities. It would be better to start when we were less tempted. But we are fooling ourselves.

Remember Jesus ministry was challenged by temptation before he told the first parable or healed the first person. We get busy in the temptation, because the nature of letting our attention and guard down opens the flood gate for failure and disappointment.

Advent. 1.a, Step one, be alert by study, fellowship, singing, exercise restraint from the thing we KNOW are not helpful. Be attentive to the building up of our spiritual self. Make our spirit the priority of each day. Not at the expense of all else, rather the priority of the day.

Advent. 1.b, Step two, pray for strength.

Wow, Jesus knows the disciples are going to find their weak points in a hurry. Not only will we get lazy and justify our physical demands replace our spiritual demands, but we will grow weary, quickly.

The preventative training is to pray.  Pick a time and work to make it your prayer time. Read the prayers of others, start with the prayers of your childhood, sit in silence as ask God to hold your thoughts and worries and simply rest in the arms of God. But start praying with the regularity with which we do important physical things. When you eat, prayer. When you rest in the room of rest, pray. When you get in the car, prayer. When you arrive at school or work or your destination, pray for what you will face. Start talking and listening to God. Listen to spiritual music, read spiritual writers, discuss spiritual topics with a desire to inform and learn rather than force others to agree. All these are forms of prayer as we offer our speaking and listening to God.

 

Advent 1.c, Step three, Be ready to stand before the Son of Man.

Keep the goal in mind. Not only be awake and proactively growing your spirit. (2016: Have every member of RSUMC involved in some spiritual growth group. 3-300, sized) Not only be talking and listening to God, encourage one another to keep the goal in mind.

Our lives our gifts of God, entrusted to us to build a relationship with God through the grace of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of the Church. When we finally have lived our life, and we stand before God. Can we say, “I want to be with you.”

It sounds crazy in a way. It seems if anyone had a chance to stand before God and say I love you our I hate you. I know you or I never really knew you. If there was sliver of opening, we would want to go with God. But the truth is that not everyone believes this to be true, or has another way of fulfillment and meaning. Some folks with stand before Christ our judge and is not interested in our excuses or laziness or business or intentions.

The text’s second warning is that difficult, terrible, and oppressive things are to come in this world: Things we will want to escape.

Be alert, be preparing, be strong , be encouraging… but do all this for what?

Jesus has come into the flesh to show and open a relationship with God. Think of your best friend. How often would you want to share

  • a meal?
  • an adventure?
  • a comment about the news or a movie?
  • or build a memory or retell an old one?
  • working through your struggles?

These are the journey points of a relationship with God. It is not just saying we are friends, it is showing it with the life, time and stuff that makes up our being.

Finally, we in a time of preparation, aimed for more than a day.

Like so many #wedding have months of planning and preparation lead toward a day, but should always be for more than that day: “That Day” may be the wedding, but it is the marriage that begins. Christmas is the season for which prepare. This is our first journey

Action Plan:

  • How am I going to keep alert my spiritual self and relationship
  • How am I going to talk and listen to God and God’s people
  • How am I going to become strong enough to finish the race.

 

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Mark 12:28-3 “Do I Love Myself?” 20151101 RSUMC

showloveOne of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question. [NRSV]

Love is the Core Value and Core Action

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;

  • you shall love the Lord your God
  • with all your heart,
  • and with all your soul,
  • and with all your mind,
  • and with all your strength.’
  • The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
  • To love God is to love your neighbor and yourself

     

     

 

 

 

Saints Love

image

The five languages…Gary Chapman (not so different a list from the Greatest and 2nd Greatest commandment)

 

  • Words of Affirmation.
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

JESUS EXAMPLES OF “5 love language”

  1. in this text : Jesus gives the affirmation that the scribe who knows when we show love to others, God’s Kingdom is near to us.
  2. In the examples of feeding and healing Jesus and the disciples give themselves in service to others.
  3. From birth, Jesus receives gifts: gold frankincense myrrh, a child’s lunch, the hospitality of supporters. And he gives gifts of healing, food, forgiveness and resurrection.
  4. Jesus spends concentrated time with the disciples, “leaving nets and follow”, with the little ones, “bring the children to me.”
  5. Jesus also shows his love through physical touch. The hem of his robe, the touch of his hand, He is not just words in stone, he is a physical example and resources.

 

All Saints Day

Saints are those who love God because God has first love us

 

sainthood is not determined by our opinion nor the church’s vote, rather by God. 

Those who love God and love neighbor, are themselves love in the world.

Motivation to thank and pray

we have no real reason to love God is God has not loved us first

so we love our neighbor before they love us

  • Saints take the first step
  • Saints start the conversation
  • Saints offer gifts
  • Saints make the time
  • Saints extend the contact
  • loving is a process not a perfection

So on this All Saints Sunday we remember those who have shown us God’s kingdom of Love and we reaffirm ourselves as the Saints who will show God’s love to this world in every way we can.

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Ephesians 5:15-20 Time for Spiritual Songs 20150816 RSUMC

image Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts. giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

Spiritual feeding:

We have talked about connecting with the Spirit through scripture, communion and today I offer through songs, spiritual songs. success and hard work make our salvation

 

There are many ways to empty our spirit.  

Poor, unwise choices

wasting time

fooling ourselves that we make our own rules, success and blessings

numbing ourselves in the drunkenness of wine and ignorance

Focus on what feeds our spirit 

the prescription for drunkenness is spiritual singing.

The script for ignorance is spiritual singing

the medicine for fulling ourselves is spiritual singing

Historically, Methodist have been known as “Those singing Methodist”

Different songs for different courses

Praise

Confession

Strength

Celebration

Thanksgiving

Grief

Healing,

Silence

New songs /old Favorites

Tell the Story, in song

Share Songs with God and Neighbors and yourself

Write your favorites  3×5 cards to turn in and share with others , two copies

write new songs,

sing old songs

Sing sing sing, get your new bucket with no holes

 

 

 

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Mark 6:14-29 Prophetically Speaking: Heads Will Roll 201507 RSUMC

 
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”

And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.

Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. [NRSV]

John the Baptizer

John the Baptizer is best known for pronouncing the arrival of Jesus as the Message and baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river. As a prophet, he is not only preaching to the crowds of ordinary folks. He is also the voice holding the leaders accountable. People throughout the region respected John; some thought he might be the embodiment of the prophet, Elijah, promised from generations ago.

The Prophet

The role of a prophet is to be a messenger reminding people of the things they should already know. Occasionally a prophet will have an apocalyptic message, but it general always followed with, a warning to repent and return to being faithful for God. John the Baptizer is no different.

His message to the king was the same as it was to the people. Repent. Namely John was called out Herod for inappropriate marriage. He married his brother’s wife.   

The Herod Family: The Royals, Kardashians and Jerry Springer Meet Billy Graham

Herod’s mother was Jewish, therefore Herod was ½ and Jewish by technicality. He married Herodias after they both divorces their spouses. Herodias, grand-daughter of Alexander the Great, married Phillip who happened to be her uncle. Herodias used her daughter, Salome, to entice and entrap Herod to have John the Baptizer executed for calling the family’s sinful behavior out.

Happy Birthday Dear Herod

The scene is a birthday party: Herod’s birthday party. Herodias uses he brother’s daughter to dance provocatively for her uncle/step-father. Herod is pleased so much that he offers half his kingdom to the child. Salome goes to ask her mother how to best cash-in on the oath of an offer. A pony? A chest of jewels? Her own palace? No, mom has her ask for the head of John the Baptizer. ??Happy birthday to you…Oh dear how dreadful.

So let’s get to the lesson: John the Baptizer calls out the twisted, brokenness on which Herod and Herodias family and relationship are held together. Treachery, murder, divorce, inappropriate re-marriage and abuse of children.

1. No one disputes that John is wrong.

2. Even Herodias knows John is right and holy, she simply does not like what she hears.

3. For calling out the family’s sin, Herodias holds a grudge against John the Baptizer, no forgiveness

4. Herod agrees by his silence and complicit behavior.

5. Herod give his word and will not change his word even when it conflicts with God’s word, (though shall not kill for one.)

6. Herod also listened to John the Baptizer and liked what he heard about repentance, but Herod didn’t hear this for himself and apply the teaching to his own life.

Important take-away

Prophets are ordinary folks who: REMIND people and leaders to be FAITHFUL to God

Being a prophet is risky business.

The People might turn on you, and not listen and follow someone they like better.

The Leader might have you killed.

Question: So who would ever want to be a prophet?

I suggest that God calls each of use to be prophets, at different times. As we study and grow in understanding of God’s laws, guides, grace, love and power in our own lives. When I am selfish, brutish and unforgiving, I experience life without God’s love, power and grace.

We can see the same in others. Because we know the power of God’s word, love and grace we are also entrusted with sharing with other where we see sin, as a warning, not a judge.

  • If someone is walking too close to the street from the sidewalk, we say, move to the center before you get hit by that truck.
  • If someone is speeding down the highway, we say, hey slow down your might get a ticket and you might kill us if someone stops suddenly in front of us.
  • If someone is choose a circular pattern of destructive behavior, habitual abuse, addictions, uncontrolled anger, etc. we say, you need to get some help, you need to see a doctor, you need a counselor, you need to stop and break the cycle. There is better way; you have another choice. God loves you more than you love you. Don’t ever forget it.

When we point out sin with the purpose of sharing a way of repentance, we are not judging, we are affirming that sin power, real and destructive in our lives. We have a way out of sin, Jesus Christ.

We are all guilty of sin. We all have different ways that we put our word, ideas, will and value ahead of God’s. John the Baptizer models a way to get back to God. He is not judging, he his holding up a mirror to see the truth..

We are the mirror people. Why don’t we believe were are all prophets? Because it’s dangerous.

We want hazard pay at best.  Ask Jesus. He’s got you covered. Now get out there and call for repentance. They world is going on a hand basket. And Gos is calling us to call out sin, offer repentance and bring people back to God. 
 

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Matthew 5.20-30 Marriage, The Law and the Church RSUMC 20150628

MarriageLicenseFor I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. [NRSV]

Q: So is marriage a matter for church and preaching?

Marriage is a relationship founded and grounded in God and has been a faith relationship before it ever was a legal conversation.

A: And for that alone, it is forever an appropriate conversation for worship, study and defending.

June 26, 2015, The Right to Marry

The recent court decision, made by the majority of non-elected-legislative-judiciary, have create a new right to marry that includes all adult persons to marry the adult of their mutual choice independent of genders. Five people have changed an institution they did not create.

If you are celebrating or if you are angry about the new definition of marriage, I ask you:

What are you doing strengthening marriage before June 26, 2015?

  • 40% of children live in single parent household. What of marriage, independent of who can marry whom?
  • 33% (Barna) of US marriages end in divorce. [The 50% includes people who have been divorced more than once, which skews the overall numbers.] But if one in three divorce, is that an acceptable number we live with as those who so highly value marriage?
  • 1% of those who marry commit suicide
  • 2% of those who never marry take their life.
  • 9 % of married couples deal with alcoholism.
  • 24% of married couples deal with mental illness
  • 86% of unhappy couples deal with domestic violence

We don’t have a lot of room to talk about marriage, never the less, the court’s decision encroaches on our faith identity of marriage that is thousands of years in the making.

First know this: This is not the end of the church or our country or our society.

  • We are people of God and God remains with us.
  • Things might change, but God will not church.
  • God’s love for us will not change.
  • God’s presence with us is unchanging and
  • God’s call for us to hear and follow Christ will not change.

Secondly, Remember marriage is not a requirement. [A big shift in the court’s action is to name marriage as a right.]

  • 75% of adults do get married. 25% do not marry.
  • It has been the responsibilities of each state to license those who get married.
  • The government cannot force us to marry to nor force us to be single.

Where Are We, What’s Next?

These past two weeks have indeed been a challenge to our faith. And while I am disappointed at Friday’s Supreme Court’s decision to “legally” redefine what Christians, Jews and Muslims, have believed the covenant of marriage to be for millennia, remember that the court’s decision does not change our Biblical and theological worldview nor does it change our denomination’s stance on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as expressed in the church’s Discipline.

Only the General Conference speaks for the entire United Methodist Church. The General Conference of the United Methodist church will convene in May of next year in Portland, Oregon to discuss this and other issues that face the church. It has the potential to be divisive, but it also holds the opportunity to be a time of faith renewal.

How should we best respond to the court’s decision: Be Not Afraid.

God is Good, All the Time, RSUMC likes to affirm.  Remember that God is still at work redeeming the world to Himself. Trust that even though we do not understand all of God’s ways, God is involved in the events of human history…even as hard and unclear as they may be.

Teach by Loving

Love your neighbor. Let our words, witness and response to all people be loving. A loving response will always be our strongest example of leadership.  You will be drawn into conversations and discussions of “winners and losers.”  Be respectful to those with whom you disagree. Be slow in anger and even slower to speak, email and post.

Its about God, People and Relationships not rules and laws

Know that you are always talking about someone’s child, grandchild or sibling. It is easy for us to objectify a conversation and forget the laws and commandments are for broken and sinful people in a broken and sin filled world.

Be Faithful in your intentional spiritual growth

This is a time for us to step up our faithfulness in the Christian life. Don’t let other people’s words or actions cause you to do harm to others or to compromise your Christian witness. We are accountable to Christ for what we do and say.  We are not responsible for what other people do or say. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you and do the best you can to express your hope in God’s redeeming grace for us all. (Romans 2.23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.)

The Government is not God

Remember: the Supreme Court, even it follows the constitution properly, does not speak for God and does not speak for the United Methodist Church. The General Conference Speaks for the church and the Discipline guides our practices.  Our stance on these issues and our practices have not changed. The church only allows me to conduct and attend marriage of one man and one woman. The church values every person with equal value from God, who creates us all.

Trust and Follow the Holy Spirit

In conversation with our D.S. and Bishop I was reminded that as our United Methodist Church is a global body, a global church, and not simply a U. S. church, and it is not at all unusual for the legal, moral and spiritual to be in tension in our various countries. We continue to be the church even though we might be in contrast with the laws of many lands.

We are in this together

As your pastor, you are in my prayers, and as your pastor I ask for your prayers in this matter. We might be tempted to allow anger, fear or ignorance to rule the day, but I ask that we constantly seek to help each other live with current reality. Life is not easy at any time, but we must live trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance to enable us to minister to all people in the light of

God is with us.

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2 Corinthians 4:3-6 RSUMC “Shine Jesus Shine” 20150215

lightindarknessAnd 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. [NRSV]

  • Shine Jesus
  • Shine your shoes
  • Shine as in moonshine
  • Shiner as in a black eye
  • Shiny as in a new car, red Corvette or a white Tahoe
  • Shiny as in a proof coin

But today we talk about the Flashlight.

Some debate:

  • in 1886 the first dry-cell batteries were made which powers a variety of emerging ideas
  • In 1898, Russian immigrant inventor, Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight. And later founded the Ever-Ready Battery Company.
  • In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. He was the first to use the “D” battery which had a stronger light.

But those early models had a weak and inconsistent power source and bulbs that were more fragile and temperamental than modern LED and HID flashlights. The name flashlight came from the intermittent light that burn for a short while and had to rest before it was read to be used again. Thus the short flash of light gave the battery with bulb stick the nickname: a flashlight.

I suggest that we have much to learn from the early flashlight as an example of our spiritual development.

1. When we find ourselves connected to the power God gives us, that is within each of us, we tap into a the source of awareness, knowledge, guidance, counsel and spiritual strength. We seem to quickly do one of two things: a) doubt it is a way of life that God has intended for us and/or b) confuse our personal power, talents and strength with God’s.

Like the flashlight, God’s presence is revealed in the darkness of a broken and sinful world and when we turn it on in the dark, the darkness is no more. But for some reason we turn off the lights.

Life in the Dark, holding a flashlight.

It sounds unbelievable, buy there a just a few times (denote the sarcasm) that while we are holding on the the switch that connects us to scriptures, worship, Christian fellowship, prayer, opportunities to serve, witness and give, we allow the darkness to take us over.

The Reality of Darkness

  • When human beings behead, cage and burn, degrade and devalue women and children. Here we see the darkness of evil.
  • When other the teachings of other faith’s say Jesus is but another prophet and deny Jesus is God’s present in our history and at the thrown as the begotten of God. When Jesus is left behind, or left out all together, darkness grows stronger.
  • When human beings long for governments to provide what God gives or what God equips us to provide for ourselves, evil has made dark the world.
  • The less we proclaim the light of Christ, the more expanse of darkness increases along with the grip of evil and brokenness.

The starting point is to affirm that some things are good and some bad, some light and some dark:

  • Shine the light, the light erases the darkness. The darkness is not present where the light shine
  • Darkness, where is the darkness? In your check book or cupboard? In your plans and dreams? In you behavior and attitude?
  • The Gravitational darkness of the back hole of evil.
  • Stumbling in the dark.
  • The futile task of traveling in the dark… without night vision.
  • Thermal signature from the energy emitted from a beating heart.

AFRAID OF THE DARK:

  • As a boy I had a teddy bear that would allow me to hide under the covers and was brave enough to keep his head out in the dark room to keep watch over shadows and strange noises. He would occasionally be willing to be held by his feet and look under the bed or even fly across the room to check the closet door.
  • We have more than a teddy bear to watch over our fears. We never out grow fear. We manage and mature over different fearful situations, but fear is a life long struggle. Jesus is our stand in. Jesus hold us and grounds us while we explore a fear-filled world.
  • Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t be Afraid to take Jesus with You when it IS dark.

Let Christ’s light shine:

  • Sometimes that darkness is people’s behaviors and attitudes and we need not face the conflict alone.
  • We face conflict knowing the Jesus never promised to have a life free of fear, but to be our counsel when the darkness surrounds, threatens and tempts us.

JESUS COME QUICK

  • Sometime Shining the light is calling on Jesus out-loud and directly.
  • Sometime Shining the light is deliberate words and actions that unfold over time.
  • Sometime Shining the light is charging our spiritual batteries when we are strong for times we are weak.
  • Bottom line: Shine the light of Christ is allowing CHRIST to shine through me and through you.

PAUL the PHYSICS AUTHORITY

I doubt Paul knew the speed of light. But lighting a lamp in a darken room; carrying a torch into a dark street; proclaiming and trusting God to show up in a cell in prison, or in conflict in the church, or the pull of governments and other types of worship.. Paul calls on the Spirit that cause him to become blind, so that he could see, to guide his steps in all things.

SO WHAT:

Turn on the flashlight. Not with the weak beam of light that you and I have to add. Rather allow Christ to light through us.

Let the world hear the Good News in our words, songs and witness

Let the world hear that evil is present but not in charge.

Pray, Speak up, be pro-active, Don’t wait for darkness to leave, Shine Christ in it.

Where is the darkness around you?

At work: Pray for the trouble makers, and difficult cases, and stumbling blocks to see Christ in you.

At home: Make time for study, worship, fellowship and communication.

In community: Small groups, worship, service, witness and fellowship.. bring the dark to the light

Online: For all the good that comes with information overload technologies, comes the easy access of evil and darkness to be at our fingertips 24/7. Set limits, support accountability and confess our sins.

Around the World: God didn’t wait for God’s people to get their act together, but went to the Shepherd and Magi to and revealed where they looked into the darkness and show them THE GREAT LIGHT at Jesus’ birth.

HomeWork:

Carry your a flashlight with you. When you see evil and darkness, shine the light of Christ.. your flashlight might be scripture, songs of faith, words of hope, and lessons of accountability. Don’t sit in the dark and don’t let others either.

 

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John 1:43-51 “Can Anything Good Come Out of Rock Spring?” 20150118

NazarethCity.jpg
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]

 

1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.

Discipleship is process of networking.

The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.

We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.

Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.

In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship

Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.

Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.

Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.

2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?

Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.

Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012.  Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.

  • Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
  • In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
  • In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
  • In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.

What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.

What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.

The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ

Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning

3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.

Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.

We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.

I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.

When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.

The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.

Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.

So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.

Amen.

 

 

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