Archive for category Meaning
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]
These verses are the definitive description of the extremes and expressions of love. Love is indeed the greater power. Love is the great gift. It is freely give, but requires all things to be fully experienced and shared. To be loved takes no effort on our part as the recipient. Yet, it means the most to make good on its reality.
What or Who do you love?
To love a thing, or an idea, or a goal, or a dream, is an impossible investment of love. To say I love donuts, mashed potatoes or country-fried steak may reveal a passion for carbohydrates, but these items will never return love to me.
I can more appropriately say I extremely enjoy the taste, experience of flavor of these items but to love them is to invest in something that can never return love, which will ultimately lead to an emptiness when the temporary fullness passes.
To say that I love my job, my house, my car or my hobbies is also a misinformed valuation. These treasures surely provide, means, space, access and interest in my life, but they will never have the capacity to complete the circuit of love I might try to bestow.
More than semantics, Love should be reserved and invested in persons and relationships that have the potential to love.
God loves us.
What does it say about US and about God, that God loves us enough to trade God’s-self for us on the cross?
God does no see us a objects in creation. We are more than bird, tree, day, night, snow days, or sunshine.
You are my Sunshine.. as important as sunshine is for light, warmth and vitamin D. The sun does not love us knows nothing of us although we depend on it continually. It is not the source of our being loved, but it is a gift from the one who does love us.
The Son, for love
God loves us enough to exchange our inability to return love, so we can love. Our society has doubled-down on being able to so definitely define and determine and self-declare every detail, label and category except for the most stubborn of them all: for example..
Every human that has ever lived has failed to be loving, kind and worthy of the existence we have been born into. Even those in the most deplorable of conditions has value, chromosomes, living and multiplying cells of possibility that are not self-willed into being.
We are born into a world filled with every example of those who precede us with some level of brokenness, self-focused not compassionate moments, some more than others, and some we assume are continually so bent.
I have yet to have business card printed that state my name and underneath that name says sinner.
John Thomas Brantley: Sinner
I profess to this be true and claim it in my daily prayers, but I don’t introduce myself this way. Before I met Wendy, a host of friends, family and church members set me up with people to date. (Worst were those who had dreamed of being a pastor’s wife, yikes!) I finally printed up a card that came closest to the plain “Sinner” card.
On the front it listed in 30 words the reason I would be a good, safe and decent person to spend time with. One the back of the card we 30 word of confessions what to expect when I was not presenting my front side. I presented this card two four women at the end of the first date. Two of them never called back. One called back to ask for a copy because they lost it and wanted to show their friend, but was not interested in a second date. Wendy met for the lunch two days later.
The old tourism catch-phrase from the Virginia board of Tourism stated: VA is for <heart/emoji>. Imagine the bumper sticker from God that reads: “Life with God is for “Sinners” with an emoji of our own face.” We don’t like to see ourselves as such. And if we do we spiral in depression and self-hate which is not the purpose of acknowledging our trouble with loving God.
I have trouble love God and Loving my neighbors.
If I love my neighbors it is typically because they are easy to love and we share things in common. If my neighbor is very different I tend to be cautious and hesitant until we find some common ground. Our common ground with all humanity is that we all have moments where we love ourselves more than we love God or our neighbors and some of us have more times we don’t love even ourselves.
Most of this we probably know in our heads.
The church, the governed, our neighbors and even our families are begging to be loved, valued, included, shown compassion, taught what is meaningful, corrected when we are lost, listened to, trusted, and the like.
The admonition from Paul to the church to model loving one another in the ways we find God loving us:
- Don’t talk about love and not actually love.
- Don’t talk about your expertise becase your not always perfect.
- You may know I love, but do you know those who need love around you?
- You are a person of faith but others are watching when we don’t model faithful speaking and acting.
- Don’t let our stuff and wanting stuff get in the way of actually loving others.
Ask some to be totally honest and ask all these each day:A
- Am I patient with you others around me?
- Do you experience kindness from me?
- Am I jealous?
- Do I look out for what’s good for me before others?
- Am I as wonderful as I think I am?
- Have you seen me be arrogant?
- When was the last time you saw me treating someone rudely?
- Is it my way or the highway?
- What do I sound like when I’m irritable?
- Do I cheer when my enemies get what’s coming to them?
- Do I celebrate when God shows up?
- Does my faith show in all things?
- Am I always hopeful?
- Am I committed to see our relationship through the hardest things and times?
That is a heck of a check-list.. This makes it easier to simply claim the business card and acknowledge, Yes, Lord! Have mercy on me a sinner!
Here the Good News: God loves us while we are still sinning.
God doesn’t want us to keep living in these broken ways, but that does not stop God from loving us. God does not give up!
Who in your life needs to hear these words? Who in your areas of influence needs to see God showing love through you to them?
The best marker in journey of learning to love are the moments we love like an adult loves. A child loves because she or he needs. And adult loves not only from the point of need, but also because we know that self-love is never enough. We need God’s help. We need the power of God’s Spirit surging through us, because our Sinner List of when we are not loving shows we have the capacity to try, but not the frequency to make it through.
Loving in the Mirror
If we look in the mirror and see only our own reflection we will fail. The task it to seek God through us.. and we will love for ever.
The Greatest thing is the hardest.
You can do it, in Christ!
Come to the table, and start allowing God’s love to shine through you afresh and anew.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.
A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.
My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”
It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.
If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)
The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.
Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.
How do I experience Jesus?
- I see Jesus: in the scriptures
- I hear Jesus: in the music
- I smell Jesus: in your questions
- I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
- I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.
How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?
- When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
- When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.
Q: So What do I tell people?
- Jesus lives for a sinner like me
- Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
- Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
- Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
- Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.
So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?
Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus
- Who will you tell see
- Who will hear
- Who will feel
- Who will smell
- Who will taste
Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is
- bound and
- blind and
- afraid and
- confused and
- misinformed and
- betrayed and
- some clouded by religion
- alone making up something they call the truth
- any of these, but they DO NOT have to be
Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence
Some have tasted the world and are left hungry
A Word to Disciples
Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.
Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.
When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way.
The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. [NRSV]
The Coach’s Gator-Aid Baptism: Acceptance and Celebration for winning or setting a record, but Christian baptism is not just a public celebration: it is about covenant making and covenant keeping.
Baptized in the Spirit vs Second Birth
Over time some churches and denominations have made more of the verse that is like intended. Some would teach that when you and I repent, acknowledge that we are sinners and believe Jesus to be our “Lord and Savior” that it is somehow a partial baptism that we must have a second baptism in the Spirit, as the sign of some spiritual maturity or marker of spiritual progress. When in fact this passage is about a lack of information, a shortcoming in the teaching and Paul wants all disciples to ha e the full story, the full benefit, and full connection as a disciple, believer and follower of Jesus.
Salvation for Wesley is the process that begins in the Holy Spirit before we are aware of what is happening, We mark our part in the process when we acknowledge Jesus Christ has died for our sins personally (thus justifying us through Grace and the Spirit), what follows in our response of becoming the person Jesus died and rose to save, the Spirit guiding us in the journey of sanctification toward the goal of wholeness in the Spirit, he called perfection.
Bottom line, if someone speaks of not having the Spirit it is actually a matter of perspective, ignorance (being misinformed or uninformed) and/or misinterpretation.
From the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit moved through the great chaos and spoke order and purpose. The Spirit moved in creation over the earth and was breathed into humanity giving us that very image, breath and spirit of God in us.
What makes us exceptional is that we each are Spirit-filled people, we all have the Spirit of God to credit for our life, our purpose and our meaning.
When the world denies or runs from God’s Holy Spirit
They do so in fear, misinformation, pride, personal desire to control, or a lack of experience/understanding.
So what? Our personal faith journey is to affirm we are spirit filled people, saved by Christ and living for God’s purpose, in God’s love, uniquely through each one of us.
So what’s the deal with this passage and Paul re-baptizing these folks?
- This passage is about teaching what baptism is about
- This passage s about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit
- It is for us a reminder that to be a Christian is to 1) be aware we are born of the Holy Spirit, 2) we are connected by the Spirit and 3) empowered by the Holy Spirit for Spiritual work and witness.
Part of this verse is about competing traditions:
“We have John the Baptist”… Our baptism is older and more closely connected to the first baptism, John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, “If John was Good Enough for Jesus, then John’s baptism is good enough for me. “Ours is the more traditional flavor.”
Paul is teaching that Baptism is the vehicle and not the destination.
It’s not owning/experiencing something, it is becoming something more important.
Paul’s correction is not saying John’s baptism was wrong, only that it conveyed part of the power:
The Two Parts of Baptism
The Jesus Part and the “my” part.
John the Baptist’s baptism was about repenting, acknowledging our sinfulness and our brokenness and that Jesus is the hope and salvation for our sins.
The second part is what difference does the Jesus part make in my life and how will accomplish my response to Jesus’s part.
Too many people settle for the utterance of words instead of the building of a relationship. Are you and I settlers?
Think of the marriage covenant:
Legally a couple is married when they have exchanged vows and pledged themselves to one another and both say the traditional, “I DO.”
But that is not the marriage, that is only the beginning of the covenant. The marriage is the journey of joys and struggles that span the time the couple shares.
Paul reminds us that we are
- Need Christ but also the Spirit
- Therefore help others find a way to grow in the Spirit
Invite someone to a life in Christ
Inquire what Baptism means to someone’s daily life
Back to School Homework
Do you remember your baptism?
Do it make any difference to you on this day?
If so how,
If not, let’s work on it together, is Paul model
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
Revealed in Christ
The Big Change in the Meal
Who am I in Christ Jesus
Easter People Celebrate
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. [NRSV]
Let’s have a conversation
- Talk about bowl games
- Resolutions and getting in shape
- the weather
- Or about purpose, meaning and life.
LATIN ‘Fiat’: So let it be
- Before “Let there be light” there was Word,
- God starts creation with conversation.
- John’s gospel is about telling, explaining and persuasion to believe.
- Before the bang of creation was the Word.
There was the relationship of love without the expression of love. If these us only self to love, love is not possible. God formed the meaning of love in our creation and spoke us into being.
A conversation of relationship rather than just order.
- John does not say in the beginning there was
- Mathematics and
- Rather in the beginning was the relationship, conversation and love.
A self absorbed creator would only need mechanics. God starts with conversation relation and meaning. That purpose is to love which requires relationship conversations as purposeful constructs.
Long before galaxies were formed far, far away there was god who had all power purpose and possibly. The meaning at work is not only order but the why before the order.
God so loved that creation was indivisible with Gods identity and purpose for creating.
Speech assumes a conversation and conversation assumes a relationship and the desire to be in relationship is the core of love and thus God speeaks because God wants love, relationship and meaning
Start a new year committed to preparing for God conversations.
In a world that is so desperately seeking a world void of God, you and I have a mission to bridge the gap of chaos.
Love gives the meaning to our lives else we are a purposesless existence
People live that way every day
Is fairness a principle of gravity?
Is justice necessary in physics?
Is kindness or needed in science?
Does mathematics demand love?
What would we see things develop and evolve if it to find a more perfect interdependence and relationship?
Genesis. God speaks order because God desires to love more than to exist
That’s why God would die for us. It is what gives meaning to our existence and god’s identity of love.
Because of sin, where we love ourselves more than loving god abs o e another god speaks the word of recreation in Christ to restore our relationship
2017 Resolution to
- Talk with God
- Talk with family about God
- Prepare to open conversation to God beyond bf out family and friends
Where there is fear and division open conversations rather than taking sides and dividing relationship
Explain why you believe what you trust
keep choosing chaos over love
Applying Titus 3
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure. I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. 9 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Advent: Series RECLAIMING CHRISTMAS
“ReClaiming Christmas: The Unexpected Gifts
A Look at the gift that is missing from Christmas, and why.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. [Matthew 24:36-44]
ReClaiming Christmas: The Christmas Cards
A Season of Sharing the Story, “The John The Baptist Collection” of Cards: Repent, You Brood of Vipers,
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.“” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “”The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’“” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “”You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “”I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”” [Matthew 3:1-12]
ReClaiming Christmas: Why Celebrate Jesus
Why Care About the Reasons for the Season
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”” [Luke 1:46b-55]
Reclaiming Christmas: Christmas Delivery
Will the gifts we share bring hope, life and joy?
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “”Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.“” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “”Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”” which means, “”God is with us.“” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. [Matthew 1:18-25]
Posted by myoikos in #2016, #costofdiscipleship, #cross, #forgiveness, #jesus, #mysundaysermons, #relationship, #sacrifice, bonhoeffer, Church, Communion, Disicpleship, Hope, Meaning, money, posessions, Preparation, Resurrection People, Sacrifice, Salvation, Service, Spiritual, Trust, Witness on September 3, 2016
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
This test describes four points of discipleship: Family, Carrying the cross, Following through what we start, and Giving up possessions.
Bonhoeffer devoted much of his life to this text from Luke and we can learn from his faith investment for our own journey as disciples.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years. Later he was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then executed by hanging on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing. [Wiki]
- Discipleship: One who devotes one’s life to following Jesus.
- To Disciples others: To invite, support, and equip/teach others how to follow Jesus.
- Q: If I am not a Disciple of Jesus, to whom/what do I devote my life?
The Rude Awakening: To be a disciple is to wager our own life, all our relationship, all our possessions and struggle toward the Spiritual person God wants us to become in a broken and sin-filled, hurting world.
In this season of political turmoil, we can easily find folks either sticking one’s head in the sand OR being consumed by the drama. What are disciples to do in the next 64 days?
- By all means, be an informed voter and vote.
- By all means, trust that God will be your salvation and strength and not the government.
- By all means, study, pray and encourage those who choose blindness/ignorance to be informed and those consumed to evaluate what is most important in every day, not only election day.
- Seek God first, and all else will be revealed and added.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple:
The family is the core community in the human community. Jesus is calling us to compare our family of choice and our family of birth.
Just because we have people who are blood kin does not mean that they are living, acting, supporting, forgiving and trusting like our struggling faith family.
The community of the saints is not an “ideal” community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness…Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men [and women] who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Carry the Cross
To be a following of Jesus is to imitate what we see and hear Jesus doing.
When Jesus welcomed the marginalized, forgotten and excluded folks, he talked, ate, fellowshipped, touched, and healed them, AND he sent them to go and “Sin No More.”
Following Jesus is both being touched and blessed by Jesus, but it is then our responsibility to become the new person that follows the new way of life in Jesus.
- To “Carry the Cross” is to feed people AND call people to be fed spiritually
- To “Carry the Cross” is to clothe people AND wrap them in spiritual encouragement.
- To “Carry the Cross” is to visit, stand with AND be Christ for someone
It is easy to carry the cross in symbolic ways, but it is ultimately allowing CHRIST to carry us on the cross.
Bonhoeffer: There is a way to measure if we are carrying the cross:
“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Finish what we Start
How many projects have been started at your house, shop, work, school, and life with great excitement and zeal, but when we meet resistance, a conflict of time, or lack of resources, or loss of focus, we lay it aside.
We know in our heads and hearts what following Jesus is about, doing it is where the power is found.
“So many people come to church with a genuine desire to hear what we have to say, yet they are always going back home with the uncomfortable feeling that we are making it too difficult for them to come to Jesus.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Give up Posessions
This is where we usually head out the door or start thinking about lunch or find some other explanation other than the obvious one.
Bonhoeffer helps us with a suttle difference about posessions and a life devoted to Christ.
“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
There is a falacy that giving our money away obsolves us from material management. Saving money to fund a life of service rather than a life of ease.
Wesley: Make all the money you can; save all you can; to do all the good you can.
Being a disciple is making a commitment that all that we have is God’s and we are intrusted with the responsiblity of doing God’s good work with all we have.
God knows we need material things, we living in the physical bodies God has made for us. Our bodies and things are not bad. BELIEVING they are our value, work and meaning becomes our God.
Cut it out because it too hard!
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The Hard life of Discipleship is Costly living.
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
- Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow,
- and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
- It is costly because it costs a man his life,
- and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
- It is costly because it condemns sin,
- and grace because it justifies the sinner.
- Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,”
- and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
- Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
- Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
- What do our relationships need most of all
- What does our daily life look like if not like Jesus
- What does our life feel like if we lay Christ aside for something new?
- Are we possessed by that which cannot love or save us?
What does it cost to not be a disciple?
- What does it cost to not seek a faith family’s support
- What does it cost to not let Jesus shine and show
- What does it cost to stop in the middle the race?
- What does it cost to invest in that which cannot love?
Book to the Hebrews – A Summary
There for Chapter 13 — The How-To’s of a Life of Grace
Since Jesus is with us,
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
The Work of Rest
- Take off your shoes, get comfortable walking on holy ground… as opposed to keeping the floor clean.
- Take off your traveling shoes and stay awhile
- Take off your work shoes and rest
- Take off your athletic shoes and rest from striving to win.
Joy is Found in the Holy Places
- Camp Glisson
- Buckeye Creek
- Prayer Closet
- Altar Rail
- In Songs,
- Spiritual moments and memories
The 3rd Rule of Methodism
Practice your piety. not Pie-eating
The Question for tonight: What are you doing to seek the holy JOY of the Lord?
Don’t just tease God on Sunday morning, spend time dwelling all day, wherever you are.
Practice hunting for Joy: Not everyone finds because not everyone is searching.
Practice naming and claiming Joy: Pokemon Go model of not only seeking but capture for later use.
Practice offering Joy to one another in the face of our obstacles. Fear, Grief, Guilt, Apathy, Ignorance, Greed, Shame, etc.
Setting a new Millstone for Joy (Commitment time)
Where will I look for Joy: Sunday school, new small group or study, personal study, a journal
How will I stay connected to Joy: Will I stay in God’s word and songs? Will I start the conversations? Will I use the post its’
Where will I begin sharing Joy each day: It is a USE it or LOOSE it power. Keep it ready, keep it handy, keep it alive.
Joy is not forced upon us, but it ours through Jesus Christ who died and lives for us: Our greatest Joy.