Archive for category Ordinary A

Matthew 25:1-13 “Take Your Oil” EUMC 20111106

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.  NRSV

Jesus tells a parable of the Kingdom of heaven.

Any time we hear one about the Kingdom of heaven we are learning something about the RELATIONSHIP with God.

Our relationship with God is..

(1)    an invitation for everyone.

  1. Ten fingers.. some RSVP, others don’t

(2)    a relationship we can share with God now.

  1. Wedding Party share celebration.
  2. Have responsibilities in the waiting.
  3. Wait and work together for the groom.

(3)    Something not forced upon us.

  1. Some live prepared and ready
  2. Some wait, some don’t think or care.

(4)    Time-line of God’s choosing, not ours.

  1. The job of the bridesmaids was to confirm the consummation of the marriage contract. Tradition of celebrating the work of the worthy. Bridesmaids can’t do the work of the bride and groom. Groomsman and bridesmaids follow the direction as it is not their day, not their wedding, but is their party and family.

(5)    Worth staying awake to celebrate.

  1. The heart of the story is about the moments of absence, distance, brokenness, sin, emptiness, and loss. (The reality of the absence of the oil)

OIL is the blessing: At my first church, on my first Sunday I saw a gallon of olive oil behind the pulpit. Anointing was not part of my worship tradition at that point in my ministry. I was scared to death that someone wanted to be anointed and I would not know what to do. I was relieved to find out they had a spaghetti dinner the week before and someone had forgotten that gallon jug in the sanctuary.

Through out the scriptures OIL is used for blessing, setting apart someone for service or leadership, making an offering holy, or healing some one who was ill or broken in spirit or sin.

OIL is a sign of SALVATION in this text. It is given to all, but some don’t take it, trust it or mature in it.

In the past 22 years since my first church my faith and practice of ministry has matured and taken turns and twists that make me the “branches” connected the vine of Christ.

The promise of Salvation that I claimed at age 13 has not changed, but my awareness of its power, depth and love has become exponential by comparison.

In the past 22 years how many people have we served, taught, feed, clothes, blessed, visited, comforted, forgiven and loved? Thousands I hope!

This passage is about those who have given up, never found their hearts warm enough to catch on fire, much less burned out…

Here is the real fulcrum of the see-saw. If we sat around the church all the time and looked out the doors and windows pointing out all those poor lost souls in the mean bad world, but never reach out to show them the emptiness of their lamps before the wedding begins.

Even if you and I are not ready to sit on the street corner on December of next year for the World to end, it is clear that the great disasters, wars, spiritual battles and economic chaos that it is usually at the bottom of the well we find God in powerful ways.

My cousin Arnold, showed his new bridge how much he loved her when he climbed down the bottom of the well to rescue her cat. He showed her grace beyond the call of duty when the cat jumped back in the next day. But on third time the cat jumped in, you have to ask the question: “Does that cat just want to be left alone?”

We can’t make anyone have faith, come to church nor change their behavior if they don’t want it first.

But were are not at the bottom the well, not at the end of time nor at the end of grace.

The very fact that Jesus tells and teaches this parable he is saying that it is not too late. The wedding has just started. 

Some folks have not opened the invitation and that is what we can do.

Some folks have not picked up their blessing/oil and that is ours to share before it is too late.

I have a charge for you that I could not know two decades ago, but I know for some fools we don’t have time to wait any longer.

Take your hand, for every finger you have left, write down the name of a person:

  • that you know does not know the love of God,
  • that is lost in grief or worry or fear.
  • That you know is angry or disappointed,
  • That is scared confused or frustrated..

Post their names on your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, on the dash of your car, in you agenda book or family calendar.

Pray for them every day. Pray for the words and opportunities to invite them to the love, home, hope, trust, joy, peace, fresh-start, blessing and appreciation that Christ holds for us.

Pray also for you to be the OIL distributer for them. Every time you see the price of GAS change, that is one more opportunity to BLESS and REACH as changing world around you.

If you don’t, you will hear the beating at the door of judgment and know they could be at the party if you had helped them see the emptiness of their living. As long as we have breath and life we have the responsibility to bless..

ANOINTING: You are blessed to be a blessing.

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Tax Questions, Matthew 22 , JUMC, 20111023

Tax Questions, Matthew 22 , JUMC, 20111023

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

The Unanswerable question: Jesus’ test question.

His response is to look at the money.  “Show me the money.” Cuba Gooding Jr and Tom Cruise.

Money’s History.. for 5000 years money as a third party item of exchange has been present in some society. The SHEKLE was one of the earliest standardized measures of money, referring to approximately as pound of barley grain.

Coins while the Egyptians used goal bars in trade, the standardized use of coins did out come on the scene until about 700 BC as

Denarius 269 BC early roman coin. used for 400 years.

Bills of Exchange: based on paying back a debt owed.

Trade bead… glass or even coffee or even coacoa beans

Legal Tender: 1600s (17th century)

Exchange, OT and NT practice…Several issues are involved in this passage: It would have been unclean to have a roman coin in the temple and in the hands of the priests.

—Jesus test: is money to be worshipped?

there are taxes to be paid, the cost of living in the Roman empire. Pay for your streets and protection.

the question was intended to trick Jesus into saying taxes didn’t have to be paid. That Jesus’ kingdom was above the law of the land, and they wanted the romans to get him for teaching not to pay taxes.

There is the unaddressed question of where the scribes and teachers got a denarius. From temple conversations?

There is no escaping our civil duty… not only an issue of tax, but also of service tot he state.

3. what are the things that belong to god?

our hearts… putting god first, then we will be responsible with the rest.

4. be intentional in your spiritual growth. knowing, recognizing the things of God.

giving on purpose, planning to give.

How much does God want? All of our heart. Again, if all our heart is in God, the money follows. the time follows, the service follows, etc. Get the picture.

If you have a tax question, as the folks who spend their time studying up on the codes. If you have a faith question, as a a Jesus follower

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Matthew 22.1-10. Another Invitation. jUMC. 20111008

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. ~NRSV

The wedding host would have not only provided a banquet, they would have even furnished the tux and gowns for their guests to wear. Therefore, those without the right garments were wedding crashers. Those who turned up their nose to the host.






HEAR THE Report of the servants sent to invite others. Come back with them or their excuse. {at the beginning of the service we will have volunteers go invite those who are absent or not attending anywhere to come to church}

To this day, the city and area of Cannan is a popular wedding location. There are dress shops and bakers and florist and decorators fill the shops through town. There are even a variety of appliance and home improvement stores in Cannan. Having a new or remodeled home was an important part of wedding celebrations.

Jesus tells a parable describing the relationship of God and us: it is like those who, though invited to the party found any number off reasons to not participate in the party. One of the primary vows we make to each other as a church is our commitment to participate in the life of the church.





This congregation becomes where we build our relationships, strengthen our families, and where we bring others into the family. To not PARTICIPATE in the family life is to affirm there is something more important than our faith family’s joys, struggles and life.

As we peel away the lays of the onion we call stewardship… Part of our faith-life is placing this community as a priority for/with our family.

When someone becomes hurt or disenchanted with our church we need to know about it so that we can collectively work out or differences. When someone looks at your life witness, your public actions, you are representing us all.

The RADICAL part of our Christian HOSPITALITY is that we welcome each other, even though we know the good and bad about each other. Part 1 of our Stewardship Journey is PRIORITY, Part 2 stops to look at PARTICIPATION. Be here, not there…

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Philippians 2:1-13 What’s Your On Your Mind? JUMC 8/28/2011

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross. There-fore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  ~NRSV

Paul encourages us to workout our own salvation.
Does that mean we can do whatever we want? Yes.
But ask does our “daily life plan” reflect God or ourselves.

This is something we, each, have to work out, find out, and live into individually.
Paul could not do it for us, God couldn’t do it for Jesus..

Work out your own salvation..
So if it is not actually ‘anything goes,’ how do we do it?

First, Paul starts with our mind, our attitude, our perspective.
When the coach isn’t calling the right plays or the favorite
players are not stepping up, fans shout:
“Get your head in the game..”
“Think about what your doing, focus.”

To help focus, Paul draws on words from an early church hymn..
He takes the familiar words and weaves them into an explanation and example..
What words come to mind with this tune?
Whistling the tune to Ray Charles’s “Georgia, on my mind..”

Jesus, Jesus, The whole day through, Just an old sweet song keeps Jesus on my mind, I’m say Jesus, Jesus, A song of you comes as sweet and clear, as moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me, Other eyes smile tenderly, Still in peaceful dreams I see, The road leads back to you. I said Jesus, Ooh Jesus, no peace I find, Just an old sweet song, keeps Jesus on my mind…

Have the mind of Christ, think like Jesus..
What would Jesus think, and say, AND do?
The test questions ask:
Q: Do I thinking of myself first? Look out for me/my family first. Right?
Q: Am I strong and humble? Or one only one OR the other.

Working out our salvation is answering one question:
Have you emptied yourself to be filled up with Jesus?
Honestly, Frankly, not so much..
We want to give Jesus some room when we need him.
We might give him one day or one hour a week.
What fills up your days and nights…
empty for the sake of your salvation.

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“Forgiveness: The Math Problem” Matthew 18:21-35 JUMC 20110918.0900

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church* sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times. 23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents* was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;* and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.  ~NRSV

<00>Frances is learning about multiplication in her class. A couple of years ago it was unbelievable to her that she would understand her “times tables.” Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus await. <01>And so does our understanding and experience with Forgiveness await us.

Video Clip: Forgiveness: from The Family the Preys

We want to believe in Forgiveness, but we don’t know how. That is what Jesus parable is about.. It is an ANTITHESIS of forgiveness. (an example of how NOT to handle forgiving)

On my continuing education trip this week we visited the Carlos Museum on the Emory campus, on one of the several Egyptian sarcophaguses there was hieroglyph of Ma’at <03> the goddess of truth and the god Anubis, judging the deceased’s has being “light as a feather or heavier than a feather” <04>, ..Alluding to how God examined Pharoh’s heart by his own Egyptian standards and found his heart too hard and too heavy.

Jesus’ parable is of a hard and heavy hearted example. Forgiveness is God’s work in us, not our management. Let go,

To forgive is to forget. Learn but let go!

Grace does not keep count, 7x70m. Let go.

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John 3:13-17 Remembering Our Response JUMC 20110911

13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  NRSV

Like it or not, the horrible tragedy of September 11, 2001 has been replayed in tribute and honor of those who heroically helped lead persons to safety, recuse those who were trapped and search for those who had died in the multiple attacks just ten years ago.

I have heard one person say, I just can’t look at those airplanes impacting the building another time.  Others have looked on and now are able to see the good that came out of such an awful event.

I ask you to go back to this very day, ten years ago. Much like those who lived during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the shooting of Kennedy or MLK Jr. you have etched into your memory what or where you first heard of that news.

I had received an epidural for back pain the day before and awoke with even greater pain in reaction to the medicine. Wendy and I went early to the doctor’s office where I laid on a large ice pack, on a traction table, in a darkened room. Everyone else left the room. With in a few moments it seemed as if every single phone, cell phone and pager sounded off simultaneously and then they all went silent, a silence followed. Some time passed, much longer that I was suppose to be in traction (for everyone in the office was glued to the tv and computer screens.) I called out from my dark but safe place of rest only to find that some plane had crashed into the trade towers. By the time made it out to the nurses station to schedule a follow up appointment, the second plane hit the other tower. This was not simple a wayward accident, it was an intentional and premeditated attack.

Our land of the free and the brave were put on a notice that remains today. The notable response was that people began called the church office and wanted to know if the sanctuary was opened for prayer. With in a few hours we had dropped the plans of the day and members and strangers gathered to prayer, reflect and share stories of friends, family members and stories that had begun to hear. Some had not yet heard from survivors. All gathered, hundreds of miles away to find in the church a place of hope, security, and grounding.

New York towers were quickly given the name “Ground Zero” but I suggest that it was a spiritual shot in all of our hearts, maker ground zero within each of us.

Yes, for us, we did not have the smoke in our lungs nor the dust of the debree on our person, but we had been transported through countless reports and visual live account… played over and over until we had to become numb.

But step back into those first moments and hours and days. People looked past our differences to see the present hurt, the hopelessness, the grief, the overwhelming nature of a new reality, thrust upon us.

One of the first bible passages people begin to learn. Even at football games, graffiti artist and placards at the gas station gift shop.. John 3:16. For God so loved the world…

How is it that we can live in a world filled with poverty, war, terror, chaos if God loves us so very much?

The question that our text asks of us today is what is our response to death, destruction, dis-orientation, and division in the world and in our communities today?

Where is God today and how has the church done in the past ten years in reaching out to a hurting, chaotic, and divided world and community?

I would make the case that our community, here in Jackson and from a global perspective are looking to the church for comfort, healing, hope, direction, power in a world that continues to crazed and up-side-down.

What child would you not want him or her to know the love of Jesus in their own heart, life and home? Then why don’t we have more helpers in our children’s program.

Let’s Wrap is receiving a $5k grant from EMC to buy coats so that no child is without a coat in Butts county.  Now we that we have warmed their bodies, will we take the next step to warm their hearts with Jesus?

If you travel at all you know that in the name of safety, there are TSA agents who are more intimate with strangers that we are with neighbors in church and our own community. We are scared to touch someone.

It is the government’s job to protect our safety, our economy and our general welfare, but it is not their job to make sure every citizen knows the love of Jesus Christ. Who’s job is that one?

When we had the great opportunity of the tragic attacks people flocked to the church.

In the past ten years what is our witness of love?

How have we shown the hope that comes through Christ?

How, there are individual who have remained vigilant.

There are instances where folks have reached out through acts of service, missions, clothing, feeding, transporting, and befriending..

The question is: do we know, for sure, if these have known it is because of God’s love, Jesus’ grace, the spirits guiding that we love as we have?

The 10th anniversary of these acts of terror stand for as a marker in the sand: how have we shown a hurting world God’s love, God’s hope, God’s grace and peace?

IF you can’t name them personally, you personally have work to do.

On some Sunday, I have asked you why are you still sitting here, I have not been specific. I have assumed you understood my question: What I mean to say is, while there are so many folks, all around us, hurting, confused, afraid, lonely, grieving, starving and separated… why are you still in this place when the people out there need us to be with them?  Go.

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ezekiel 33.1-11 Watch, Trust, Follow in Faith JUMC 20110904

Ezekiel Israel’s Sentinel

The word of the Lord came to me: 2O Mortal, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; 3and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; 4then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. 5They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. 6But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.

7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life. 10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? ezekiel 33.1-6,7-11 NRSV

Before the water released out of the dam each evening into the Taccoa, a horn would sound, and the height would rise 2-4 feet and the speed of the water flow would more than 2x-4x. Saving fishermen, tubers and kayakers.

Some criticized the weather focusers for over reacting to such wide spread evacuation of New York. But it was up to the residents, to listen to the warning and live with the consequences of their action or NON-actions.

Ezekiel is the sentinel, prophet. The messenger of God’s message.

Q: Have you heard people, movies, television shows, internet theories speak about the signs of the end times. What do you say? One count down clock. 472-3 days until the end…

We have to balance that with “no one knows the day or hour” with Jesus condemnation that “you watch the sky and know what the weather is going to be”…

The lesson is to look for the signs, and act accordingly.

In driving, no one knows exactly when you might run off the road, but your watch the signs that say, steep grade, sharp curve, or fall rock, because the likelihood is greater at certain times and places.


The emphasis on our text is the role of the prophet and our participation in the warnings.

1) sometimes you are the prophet for someone else…

2) honestly we are not usually the prophet, we are in the role of hearing the warning of others.

3) decreeing GOD-ly prophet, is the one sharing God’s message.

not always easy to hear… the task then is to pray for the sentinel to be clear…

not get rid of the bad guy/gal or make him/her stop… it is speak so I can hear and know your heart.

4) Once you have heard God’s contemporary message, follow, do it, trust it, step out in faith.

Do you get the weather report for the year and never listen again?

Do you read your bank statement/investments once a year and write all the checks you like without following up?

Do you look for traffic only in one direction and drive on without concern for the other?

Look for the signs, Be Alert. Follow their warning, and you will be saved unnecessary trouble, even your life.

I’m looking for signs.. because the time is not known.

I’m following the warning… because its time for caution and concern.

I’m going to keep living in faith, that God is at work in the world, universe, and our hearts now as always.

That will never change, even if all else is up-side-down.

That’s what it means to meet him at his table and trust his grace… Here are two signs. Bread / Cup.

When are you going to need God’s grace, don’t exactly know the hour and day, but I know will need them.

Come on to dinner, now. (That is the prophet, sentinel’s message.)

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Romans 12.9-21 “True Lovers” JUMC 20110828

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  -nrsv

When you play the card game Hearts, after the 2 of clubs is played, you lead with hands that you think will win all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades or None of them. If you are able to take them all or avoid them all, you “Shoot the Moon”.

Paul, if he had played cards, which we have no idea what games they played, could have summed up this whole teaching by saying, When it comes to loving, “Shoot the moon!”  Avoid all the evil, take all the opportunities to do Good, and you will know what love is.

Wendy and I had the opportunity to go to Paris for the Millennium celebration. I told her I had a watch night service at the church. She said this is the Millennium. John paused, and in that pause all most forfeited his ticket and invitation. One notable thing is Paris was it appeared that it was appropriate to kiss where-ever and when-ever you like. The witness of lovers.

Tina Turner would ask: What’s love got to do, got to do with it, What’s love but a sweet old fashioned notion, What’s love got to do, got to do with it, Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

Ke$ha and Katy Perry: Walk by and I’m a nervous wreck,  The way you smell, the way you dress, so perfect My tongue is tied,  cause I can’t translate these feelings inside, I I oh, I can’t speak I am terrified, Cause if I say the wrong thing,  You might see how hard I’m trying, Is this made up or true love..

Romantic Love is an wonderful and awesome thing, but there is a greater love.

Couples who come to get married, most all of the time have a great infatuation for one another. Usually their love has not been tested, stretched and threatened.

Paul points us to LOVE that has been through the ringer, mature and whole. In this text is a lesson to teach us that we are all LOVERS.

AND.. that we are called to witness to the world, as such.

When we say in our MEMBERSHIP vows that we will give our witness, most folks assume that means we are to prepare our spiritual testimony and hit the street corners trying to convert the world.  Paul offers a more practical approach

9 Let love be genuine;

  1. hate what is evil, …       hate goes with evil. Do all in your power to NOT love what is NO good.
  2. hold fast to what is good;                                          Put your Trust in Goodness.
  3. Love one another with mutual affection;              Mutual Affection, calls for communication & relationship
  4. outdo one another in showing honor.                   Ere on the side of doing what is honorable.
  5. Do not lag in zeal,                                                       See the Good in others, Starting NOW
  6. be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.                          Look for God’s presence and witness
  7. Rejoice in hope,                                                           Don’t Give Up
  8. be patient in suffering,                                               Don’t Give Up, even when that’s hard
  9. persevere in prayer.                                                     Actually Pray about it, not just say we will.
  10. Contribute to the needs of the saints;                     Help some one, some how, be involved.
  11. extend hospitality to strangers.                               Remember you have been stranger, make a friend
  12. Bless those who persecute you;                                Pray for Good to come to those who don’t deserve it.
  13. bless and do not curse them.                                    Refrain from speaking ill of others.. don’t complain
  14. Rejoice with those who rejoice,                               Celebrate the good in all things, and times.
  15. weep with those who weep.                                      Be compassionate with all who hurt.
  16. Live in harmony with one another;                        Harmony honors our differences, but doesnt insist on melody
  17. do not be haughty,                                                       Don’t let pride eat you up.
  18. associate with the lowly;                                           Be intentional about friend-ing the friendless.
  19. do not claim to be wiser than you are.                   When you think you know it all, think again
  20. Do not repay anyone evil for evil,                             Don’t model evil’s behavior.
  21. take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.               We a wintess of what is Good. Take the high road.
  22. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.        You start the peace making first.
  23. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;    God is judge, not you.
  24. “if your enemies are hungry, feed them;                Feed the hungry, even if you don’t like it.
  25. if they are thirsty, give them something to drink;   Quench the thirsty, even if you don’t trust them.
  26. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.    Lead with Goodness.
True Love is Genuine Love.. Go be Genuine, in the world, in your work and play, in your relationships and witness, even toward your enemy.

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Matthew 14:22-33 “Back in the Same Boat” JUMC 08072011 Outline

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” -NRSVDisciples Have Everything Working Against Their Success:

  • Evening, Sun Downers, confusion
  • Alone, Children alone, Seniors alone, homeless alone, single parents,
  • Battered, number of spouses battered, battery statistics in general
  • Far away, Soldiers, students, travelers,
  • Against the wind…, when invisible forces keep you from holding ground, where you can’t even stand still in trouble..
  • Terrified, afraid, and frightened, Primal reactions to danger, fear, loss, grief and emptiness
  • Sinking, .. a drowning, falling, loss of control and ultimately a loss of life.

Lord Save me!

  • Obvious petition, request, and plea, why not ask sooner, (CERF),
  • I’m tired of saving myself… tired of making deals.. getting buy, tired of self fooling / self lying


  • Immediately, Jesus meets us.
  • Here we at his Table, he has stepped next to us, and prepared for us a place of peace, rescue, relief and rest.
  • (Come to me all who labor and are heavy ladin and he will give you rest.)

Our Response is praise and worship.

  • Come, out of your boat and walk in faith to reach Christ’s hand, and become his body and presence.

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Matthew 16.13-20 Jesus at the Headwaters JUMC 20110821

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.  NRSV

The Jordon River begins as spring, fed by the snow capped mountains, (Mt Nebo)
which runs deep into the grown through rocks to form the headwaters.
The birthplace of the river.

I was born at the Candler county hospital in Metter, GA. People as, where were your born. In Metter, I answer. They may have heard of the Guido Gardens or know it is the bathroom break you take on I-16 between Macon and Savannah. But for me, it is my birth place. If inquirers are familiar with Metter, they begin to ask me if I know this family or that family. I have regret as I only lived there six months. I beyond the primal trama of birth itself, it holds no childhood memories for me. But it is my starting point.

If you live at your starting point, one must ask, what have I done with the time I have been right here? How many of us were born here in Butts county? How many have never moved away? You can’t choose where you were born, but we all grow out of the places where we have started.. The question is where are you now? and the follow up is, Where are you going?

I had a family that had a mountain house on the Taccoa River, the little fishing lodge held many family memories for generations. When the grand father of the family died, the family wanted to have his memorial service at the cabin and desired to have his ashes placed into the river. At the end of the time of remembering the family members who wanted to cast the remains into the water found the little pool of water near the cabin that was so good for trout, did not facilitate ashes floating down stream as they had hoped. His ashes remained very close to the bank. The Point: We are not suppose to linger in the same place.

Jesus’ point: Where have we started our faith journey and where did our faith find its beginning?
I recall on a long summer camping vacation wedding trip. We traveling just south of Fargo, to Wahpeton North Dakota by way of Minnesota, we followed the Mississippi river north and then went west. At the starting point of the river there was a place where you could step on a few stones and walk across the Mighty Mississippi. Of Course at its beginning it is small. In its maturity it is enormous.

Jesus takes the disciples to the head waters of the Jordon, near the base of the snow capped Mt Nebo, to a place that seven deities were worshipped. Here Jesus ask them the most important question.

The very first assignment I was given in Seminary was to write my Credo, “This I Believe”. With each semester I had the opportunity to rewrite, adding and taking away, but always going back to the first draft to compare where I had grown and to what I continued to hold fast through out great challenge.

In the middle of Jesus work with the disciples he takes them to the foundation, the birthplace of the Jordon River, the source of their water, food, livelihood, culture, and life.. and here in the presence of other cultures ask for their affirmation, confession, and profession of faith.

Point: What is the foundation of your trust and faith?  “Who do you say that I am?” he asked.

Confirmation is a time of claiming the birth of our faith. For some it is the birthplace, for most Methodist, it is looking back to the faith that brings us to this point and looking down the stream as for as we can see and confirm where we stand and why we are on this faith journey, together.

The end of the teaching moment, Jesus gives disciples a command that is not ours. He wanted to know where they were, but his timing was different. We live in a time that hungers to hear Where God is alive? What is our meaning and purpose?

These who come to stand at the edge of the water and say, You are the Christ, I will follow you. Are those who are now called to go tell. But it is not just them, they now remind all us, God’s timing is to tell the whole world.

Affirm our faith, Once Again… I believe

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