Archive for category Prayers

John 14:1-16 “Beyond Belief”

Bbelief.png“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. [NRSV]

Access and Frustration

Jesus shows us two important revelations in the passage.  The first, and more obvious, is about Jesus’s relation to our heavenly father and along with that is our access to God through Jesus. The second is the human side of Jesus, revealing his frustration with his closest followers and allies not understanding or seeing God in their presence.

It is worth exploring Jesus’s frustration with the disciples. (“Show us the Father”?) Do you not believe or do you not understand. It is very human to be frustrated why people are reluctant or hesitant to believe in Jesus. The gift Jesus gives is how he presses through what is to himself obvious to continue explaining until the understand.

This Mother’s Day, we honor all those who have been a mother to us. Some of those are our birth-mother, others are grandmothers or great-grands, some are friends and some are not necessarily beloved, but those who stick with us when all others have left us.

Jesus reveals a mother’s love of working through frustration to make certain the heart and mind connect with God’s heart and mind.

The Core Theme: Access

Not only does Jesus make plain his divine relationship, but he moves beyond simply saying, “I am God” to say, you know me, you have access to me, you are connected to me, and being with me, you are with the heart of God. God is with you now. “Emanuel”

Recalling the angel’s words to Mary when Jesus was promised to her, “his name will be Emanuel” God is with us.

Motherhood can also be both frustrating and accessible.

There is a daily model with life-long practice of wanting your children to understand, know, “get it” so they can make the best choices

And yet, a mother has to allow each child to make their own way, learn from both the good and bad.

Jesus Presses the Disciples to Understand

AND, reminds them that understanding the gateway to pro-active, engaging, faith-walking belief.

A Mother’s hope

is for us to trust God with not only our thoughts but also in our actions

is for us to reflect God’s presence, even when we are failing

is for us to trust God’s power, in our strength and in our weakness

is for us to know the answer, but even more, to test the truths in our choices.

Whatever you ask, In My Name, 

This is not attaching God’s name to our wish list,

it is asking for what is God’s will.

Mom’s learn when to let the brood go on their own, hoping they will fly on the food and practice that has been shared.

Jesus lets disciples go on their own, hoping they will ask for what God seeks to reveal in their lives.

Thank and Praise the mothers who have revealed God’s presence

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1 Timothy 2.1-17 I’m Not Lying 20160918 RSUMC

truth

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all —this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. [NRSV]
Paul gives a rather curious footnote in his letter. “I am telling the truth, I am not lying“. It is usually in our experience that if we think someone needs to hear us say these words that there is some question about our vercity, our truthfulness or trustworthiness.
There are two pieces of instruction to which this appears to be reffering:
  1. First, Paul’s instruction to pray for everyone, including kings and high officials.
  2. Secondly, Paul’s ministry of being a messenger and apostle as a teacher of the Gentiles.

A. Prayer:

Objectively and with humility, it is a simple command to pray for everyone including those who have authority over you and over us all. On the other hand, it is also difficult to carry out with sincerity, to supplicate, intercede and giving thanksgiving for everyone, including those who lead or would choose to lead us.
Two observations:
(1) One Paul is not giving the community of faith the excuse, a pass, to ignore those who oppress, make difficult or misuse their authority, rather it is the community of faith’s role to keep the conversation in the context of God’s grace and God’s working of bringing peace through all people, to all people.
(2) Paul is neither saying the everyone, including those in high offices, are not in need of prayerful help from God and God’s people. Therefore, pray with, pray for and pray into the thanksgiving to which we are called to become.
I challenge to pray for God to be known to our leaders, for our leaders and through our leaders so that God might be known, praised and thanks given to God.

B. Ministry Authority:

Paul appointed: hearld, apostle and teacher.
  • (In readying how Paul was persicuted, jailed, shipwrecked, run out of town, dismissed by others in the Way, in the church: for his earlier persicustion of Jesus, Paul is claiming athority by appointment from God.)
  • As Wesleyan Methodist we see God’s preventative, justifying and sanctifying graces at work. As well as an affirmation that some authority is revealed directly in our experience of the Holy Spirit.
  • God using someone that was the least likely person to reach the Jewish community and certainly not the Gentile community.
  • I believe this is the connection Paul wants to affirm to Timothy because he is conferring this authority Timothy, to the rest of the church and to you and me gathered here today.

Paul’s reminder to Timothy is also a reminder to each of us and to those who believe and trust some other gods, doctrines or principles.

The truthful and trustworthiness of our authority is under attack:
  • Externally, When we listen to the civil view of the church’s role it has become one of many voices.
  • Internally, When we pray only for whom and what we want, rather than for God’s will and work.
  • Communally & Personally, When we listen to fears and hate rather than prayer we attack truth and trust
The instruction is to remember that you and I are appointed to the same work:
Herald: The messengers, witnesses, and advocates for Christ’s presence in the world.
Apostle: Leader, delegator, and  one who shares Christ’s living present in the world.
Teacher: Instructor, one who models the heart of Christ internally and externally, to church and world. for everyone, including the king and other leaders.

Challenge:

Live as people of the Truth of Christ. (Not fighting over what is the principles of truth, rather trusting the truth of Christ to be lived out in how we interact, prayer, prepare and instruct each other.
The challenge to Timothy and to us is one of action. This is where Paul is not lying, not teasing, not suggesting, not holding back!

 Bottom Line:

You and I are the Heralds, Leaders, and Teacher that are called model a life of prayer for this world: teaching, revealing and modeling the grace and power of Christ to save, save us all. Amen.

LinK: I could lie, but I won’t liey to you. God is with us and calls us to tell Christ’s truth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wherever_I_Go_(song) OneRepublic Lyrics:

I know I could lie, but I won’t lie to you
Wherever I go, you’re the ghost in the room
I don’t even try looking for something new
Cause wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you

Some people try but they can’t find the magic
Others get down on their knees and they pray
I come alive when I’m close to the madness
No easy love could ever make me feel the same
Make me feel the same

Traditional Music : UMBH

  • I Exalt Thee
  • 399 Take My Life
  • 395 Take Time to be Holy
  • 402 Lord I Want to be a Christain

 

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Luke 7:1-10 “Go, Come, Do: Jesus Calls Us. 20160529 RSUMC

ServeHimGoComeDo

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go,’ and he goes, and to another, “Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. [NRSV]

We have the ability to look back and compare the disciples Thomas and Peter and others to this unnamed Roman centurion. Based on his military training the soldier recognizes the power and authority of a command. On the other hand, Thomas, Peter, and John felt they had to see and touch to trust and believe.

This switch is a reversal of what we would assume to be the reality. The disciples would seem to have the blind faith and the Roman soldier who was expected to be an avoided adversary. But the story of what is assumed is not the story of the Gospel message.

This account is most accurately knows as a story of healing. The centurion’s servant found in good health after a remote conversation between Jesus and the soldier. (This is an early example of the range of divine Bluetooth/WiFi healing.) But as remarkable as the healing this is also an example of trust.

I am very proud of my son Luke for finishing his work at the Air Force Academy and becoming a second lieutenant. Four years ago, his being an officer in the military was something neither of us could picture. All Luke knew for sure was a good school; they let him play on the football team and is in the western part of the US. Four years later I can see he has rapidly increased his ability to make informed decisions, to communicate effectively, to take calculated risks and set goals of his choosing, all the while remaining committed to growing his faith.

In the early days of his training, they took daily photos during boot camp to preoccupy family and friends by seeing evidence that they had not quit and run away. There were a few days where fear, exhaustion and disappointment were in the photos, but others had smiles, comradely and confidence. This last semester I learned of some of the struggles he was called to discern and hopeful times that his delegation would not require any further follow through.

This moment in Luke’s Gospel is one of those times of delegation. Jesus is asked to delegate his authority to heal.

This request comes from the soldier who trusts Jesus do be able to do what is needed by making it so. Say the word, and so shall it be done.

  • It is like asking for the quilt committee: We need a prayer quilt. And sometimes, overnight, it is done.
  • It is like asking for help with Show and Sell: We need food preppers and server, and it is so.
  • It is like asking for a SS teacher or new Wednesday helper in the children’s department, and we have to turn folks away… ( ..well I was on a roll and hoped it would be so.)

But this is right where the difference between the devoted disciples and serving soldiers paths cross.

Who is worthy? The faithful who have been by Jesus’ side all this time or those willing to Go, Come, Do?

Somewhere in our model of being and doing Church we build some assumptions that you must be old enough to be accountable and able to serve in meaningful ways AND you have to be young enough to be responsible and able to help in meaningful ways. So we excuse you when you are a kid and retire you when you get tired.

Your church is calling you to Go, Come and Do right now.

“Oh, now it’s summer break. We are going to be gone, and we will see you when we get back into the fall routine.”

  • When you have occasion to travel and cannot be present here, remember to worship where you are. Either experience worship, in a different place or log in the streaming of the early service. Find God with you where you travel.
  • Practice talking to strangers about Jesus; you might never see them again, and that is one reason to share your faith, and the other is if you do, you might transform a person’s, life you would otherwise not be present to reach.
  • Remember the ministry of your church continues even when you are in other locations. Be consistent with your giving. Use the online giving, send a check early or remember to catch up.
  • Be open to finding God where you Go, to bring back new experience that helps us DO ministry here.
  • The purpose of a vacation is renewal and relationship building. What better time to spend with your travel mates and family than to sing praise/hymns, share the scriptures, and learn how God is at work in new places.

No matter the season, we are called to respond to needs of those who are hurting around us. Here is the tricky part. We respond, not because it makes us feel better or eases our accountability, we serve Jesus when we do. The centurion works with Jesus as Jesus command.

There is an obsessive amount of ‘worthy’ language in such a short passage. The “I’m not worthy” language.

Here is the point about Jesus:

  • First, Jesus says to us, and to everyone in the scene: I am here because you are worth it to me.
  • Second, Worth is not determined by the government, peers not even the church. God declare we are worthy, because of Jesus.
  • Third, Jesus responds not because what the soldier had earned with the religious leaders. Jesus responded to the trust and authority the centurion acknowledges in Jesus.

Our calling to heal the sick, feed the hungry, visit the lonely, care for the lost is because it gives witness to us and the world that Jesus is at work in us.

The soldier came to Jesus because he knew Jesus could do what no one else could do. Not because he felt bad about his servant. Not because of his desperation. Not because of his business dealing with the elders at the synagogue. The soldier came in faith.

This weekend we honor those who made a worthy choice to serve under another authority, trusting that they were part of a larger force of good. Not every soldier helps for reasons of faith, but this centurion has shown us that even in serving his command, he found a way to connect with Jesus.

We thank those who given their lives in service. We honor their willingness to Go, Come and Do what they were called to do. They are for us an ongoing challenge to do the same for Christ as the church.

quote-jesus-measured-greatness-in-terms-of-service-not-status-god-determines-your-greatness-rick-warren-79-94-17

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John 20:19-31 NRS. “Be Believing” RSUMC 20160404

believeWhen it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [RSV]

Seeing is Believing

  • Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
  • Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
  • Understanding is the starting point

Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith

  • Faith is based in what we do not control
  • Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
  • Faith is Affirming what God provides

Faith is the Core

  • Faith is generally a process
  • Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
  • Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.

The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation

  • Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
  • Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
  • Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship

Commitment to the Relationship

  • Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
  • Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
  • Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
  • Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
  •  COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
    • Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
    • Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
    • Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
    • Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.

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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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John 6:24-35 Which Tank is Filled? 20150802 RSUMC

GasTankFilledSo when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. [NRSV]

We want a new sign

From the text, the people ask Jesus for something new and improved. We like something bigger, better and more sensational that the last performance. Human nature has not changed since Jesus’s time.

You fed 5000 yesterday what will you do today?

We actually want more.

You gives us something we didn’t work for yesterday, keep feeding us so we don’t have to work.

Occupier Mentality: “It’s no trouble for you to feed us, we don’t have to do any work, we just ask and you give.”

Jesus said, you will be hungry for food everyday, You sound like Moses’s people. God wants to feed your spirit.

We want ANOTHER show. 

The crowd: was also saying. We are heard to be fed and entertained.

Keep proving yourself to us. A little is never enough, we want the greatest show on earth.

Jesus tells the crowd, You need to be asking for the “true” bread that gives eternal life from heaven. Not just daily bread, heavenly bread.

We want tangible, physical proof of more and we want it now.

Prosperity-preachers tell folks that the way to wealth is to trust in Jesus: Are the people who are in Costa Rico, Culebra, Porte Rico, or 80% of our students at our local schools who are faithful in Jesus, but stay wealthy. Who can’t afford to make it to the wealth palaces.. there is a disconnect..

In a world filled with struggles, grief, trials and sin… we want to find the path of least resistance for the greatest personal yield..

Here is Jesus’s question to those who seek peace, satisfaction, fullness, wholeness, justice, power and life.

Which tank do you fill first?

The gas tank or the prayer tank? The stomach tank or the spirit tank? the bank tank or the eternity tank?

A couple of years ago I remember pumping eighty dollars of gas into my gas tank on the way to the grocery store. Preoccupied with my grocery list, I looked back at the tank I realized I had nothing left to spend at the grocery store. I went home empty-handed but with the one tank full, the other empty.

Jesus wants us to be full, in the eternal way.

Communion in one certain way we fill our spiritual tank. This is not just bread and juice this is the presence of Christ live and at work in us. This is not just the juice this is the real power of Jesus’s sacrifice at work on our behalf making us whole, fresh and new.

Do you have room for communion?

One Sunday afternoon I watch Monty Python’s Meaning of life and reached scene where the very large person was eating a disgusting amount of food and was do full that he was expanding to the point of exploding his fullness. The waiter offers him a “wafer thin mint” to cleanse his pallet. “Oh I couldn’t eat one bite more.” the man protests. The waiter persists: It ‘s just a wafer thin mint. They banter back and forth and the large, completely full man yields and places the thin mint on his tongue and proceeds to literally explode. I was both disgusted and rolling with laughter at the literal interpretation of having eaten beyond the point of being full. I could not keep from laughing all through communion that night. How could a wafer and drop of juice fill us beyond fullness.

alternate..

Phil DeMoore: What you do when you get ready to cut the grass: Fill the Mower.

Rather than drain   tank, lets fill each other’s tank.

Bottom line.

We don’t need to be entertained by Jesus

We don’t need more proof.

We don’t need another illustration.

We know we need Jesus.. Are you full of Love? Are you filled with a passion to share the Good News? Are you filled with the peace and assurance that God will be with us and will prevail through all evil and all trials and struggles and if we stick with God and do what God guides and calls us to do for others,… then we will already know what eternity will be like.

Communion

The filling station is here. Check you gauge, is it time to fill up.

 

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Isaiah 40:1-8 Advent: “Preppers Unite!” RSUMC 20141130

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Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. [NRSV]

The Prophet Isaiah gives those who seek God’s presence words of encouragement as well as a reality-check about where to placed our faith.

This first Sunday of Advent we begin lighting candles. This is our sign, this is our symbol and logo for the season. There is a great presence of darkness all around us: Economic, Political, Geo-political, Racial and Cultural protests and looting, A woman killed three people in Denver to buying the last discounted TV at Walmart. The valuable has become trivial and the trivial takes on the value of greatest worth.

This prophet work is a call to make a way that prepares for God’s coming

Prepping: The ultimate Boy Scout exercise of being prepared. I will admit there are some items that I have more of than I used to keep around. I’m not a zombie apocalypse follower. But there seems to be some common sense in looking at the signs and seeing the need to prepare for things I can manage and control.

There is a fine line sometimes between having a few extra supplies, jugs of water and basic necessities and those who have bunkers, stock-piles and provisions for decades. Somewhere in between folks will say we are crazy, foolish or even delusional, while others will say we are foolish, crazy and delusional for not getting ready for a return to the 19th century way of life.

Here is a point of learning for each of us: At what sign, moment or circumstance would we change the focus of our regular way of leaving and prepare for Christ’s return. What would I need to experience in order to act most seriously and sincerely about preparing, not only my self, but others for the coming God Christ, God with us here and now?

In other words: how bad do things need to get before we see that we cannot fix world hunger?
How many acts of terror before we confront that the power of Evil is real and irrational.
How tough do our finances drop before we see we can’t buy nor save our way out of trillions of debt?
AND
How long do we allow people to build waves of doom and gloom before we look to God of strength, hope.
How long will we convince ourselves that we can manage any situation without God’s help
How long will we allow those around us to live, plan, lead and struggle managing the world around us without God’s help and allow them the political correctness, fairness and to-each-his-own theology?

The promise in Isaiah warning is that God will certainly put us into perspective, just like we through out old flowers that were once beautiful but are now dried and lifeless.

Jericho: Mt Temptation

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Isaiah call to action is to CRY OUT!
But what are we to call out? Who are we to Call out? What is it we are supposed to say? Answers: We will all fade, fail and died… so we best prepare for God’s stepping in our place.

Advent is this call to action: Remember God is God and we are the created. We are very smart, strong, and

This Advent is a time to speak up, speak out, Cry Out. Not so much to remind each other here, but for the rest of the world to know now is the time to make way for God.

“Swords ready? “On Guard! On Watch! Be Alert. Pay Attention. Look for God, for God is coming.

This get’s back to the prepping: If we live like the apocalypse is coming in 2015 then the majority of folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

If we are talking about Christ’s return and final victory coming this December 25 instead of Santa then folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

God is appearing every day. This is the real, reality.
Advent is not just a season prepping us for Christmas; it is the call to faith for each day and every season.

So I offer a balance: On one hand remember we are a fragile and delicate as a flower, think if power of a bacteria or virus, the sudden impact of a crash, the in hailing or injecting or ingesting of substances that end out live quickly as well as those that quietly tear us down.

On the other hand: God’s word is eternal. Ever strong and to be trusted.
Cry out for folks around us to ready, study, share, learn, open and press through God’s word.

How do we prep for God. Trust what is spoken of God. Have faith in God’s promise of grace and salvation.
Be on Guard to speak and share the word with everyone..

The road to heaven is paved with God’s intention. That we believe, trust and follow.
Not our intentions, God’s.

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Ezra 3.10-13 To Laugh or Cry 20131124 JUMC

10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality. 

John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ,

The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past,

The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church.

The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people.  In our life time, the church will become something new.

Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers?

It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church. It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith

One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say,  some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ.

Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over. It continues.

Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future.

Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!

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1Corinthians 1:10-18 “The Message is Power” JUMC 2014012

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Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [NRSV]

Small Groups
The Luminers, a folk-rock group based in Denver, were nominated at for a Grammy as both the “Best New Artist” and “the Best Americana Album”. Their songs are simple and very sing-able. I would guess that is one of the reasons they have become so popular. One of their best know is a song called “Ho Hey.” The title comes from the ‘Ho’ and ‘Hey’ grunted between the lines of the verses. But the main lyrics of this love song speak of a search for love and belonging. These are two very important parts of our human experience that the world hears in a folk song.

Here is a group of folks who moved from different parts of the world, through New York, and find their way to Denver as a home. Theirs is a new family found through music that sings about the journey to belong and find love.

This is what our hymns/songs do for us that we sing today. They are five people, in two years sang to sold-out crowds, sold double platinum number of records and held the honor of having the most shared song on “Spotify” music app. They are not a church; nor are they neither call themselves religious, nor Christian and yet they are sing about the power we offer. What’s up with that?

Myhopewithbrillygraham.org
Bill Graham is the iconic cheer leader for sinners everywhere in our lifetime.
Come the Cross is the invitation of every sermon: Come to face to face with God’s love, God’s proof revealed in the cross.

Paul writes to the churches at Corinth: Don’t fuss, don’t be divided, don’t be fooled yourself or others. It is Christ who is for us all. We are all to be for Christ. Think of all the people:

• we have steered away from faith because our own will, our plan, our traditions.
• we have closed the door of hope because we didn’t speak, invite, or respond.
• Think of all simple ways we empty the cross of its power.

What, you think we have never done that?
On one hand there is nothing we can do that changes God’s love for us.
On the other hand we can make it so difficult for folks and ourselves from experiencing that love now.

Paul’s passion and warning is not to empty the cross of it’s power. How does that happen?
When we don’t reach out to those who are hurting, hiding and those who are full-of-themselves.

Is it the mission of a folk-rock band to tell the world about belonging to God’s love? No.
Is it just for the TV Evangelists to spread the word? Is it just the hired help at the church? No.
“You are My Witnesses.”
Why would you not want to be a witness?
Are the details too cloudy, do you not remember? Then open the book, open your heart and mind.
Are you too afraid,
Are you too busy,
Pick your reasons and excuses…

Paul points to the boiling point: “the foolishness of the perishing.”
Those who are following their own way, and not God’s way, are dying, separating and burning out.
The foolish part is they think they are strong, deserving, and right by their own judgment.

God has show use how much God loves us, in hope….that we would choose to trust and follow God’s way.

Here is our homework:
Pray for God to open the opportunity for us to share the ‘Cross’ with someone this week.
Reach out to someone this week and actually share the message of the cross with someone THIS week.
When you do this, be prepared for it to not be accepted, welcomed, or received. But just do it.

If we are not the ones sharing the Cross, we too are unplugged from its power in ourlives.
There are times we show God’s love in acts of service
There are times we show God’s love in deeds of mercy
There are times we show God’s love in theory and ideas
This week let us show it in words of faith that are alive on our hearts and lips.

Tell someone about the cross
Don’t let the power of the cross be missed
Don’t take credit, don’t look for blame, just look for God to show up, in you, in them, or all around.

Tell them God loves them, Tell them God cares. Tell them God knows us.
Tell them God gave his life for ours in Jesus Christ.
We deserved the death, the hell, rejection and the brokenness for all our sins and foolishness..
Through the Cross Jesus took for us, took on himself the blame, the cause, the reasons
And in exchange,
God gives us power, life and hope.

Is this what our community, our country and world needs to hear? Yes it does.
Who is going to speak it? Sing it? Tell it?

If five people can find their way to Denver and have millions of Lumineer fans listen in a year.
What can five people form Jackson do in year if they are as relentless in telling about Cross of Jesus Christ.
Let’s find out.

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Matthew 2:13-23 “Cutting Through the Clutter to Find God” JUMC 20131229

mansleeping
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:  “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,  “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” [NRSV]

Joseph and his dreams

  • OT: It is Jacob’s son, Joseph who has visions and dreams where God is revealed to him even as a child.
  • His dream that the shafts of wheat would bow down to him offended his brothers who sold him into slavery.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph becomes known as one who interprets dreams as God’s messages. Later he is called on to explain Pharaoh’s dreams and describes how they will have abundant years followed by lean years. Pharaoh placed Joseph as is second-in-charge to prepare for the years of famine.
  • During the drought, Joseph’s brothers journey to Egypt and to Joseph’s court asking for food to feed their family. After some testing, he reveals himself to his brothers that enslaved him who bow before him. His dream is revealed over the span of his life.
  • NT: Now Mary’s husband, and Jesus’s foster parent, our Joseph from today’s text continues the experience of God speaking through dreams.
  • God sends an angel to comfort and assure Joe when Mary becomes pregnant.
  • God speaks in a dream warning Joseph to leave town and avoid Herod and his plot to kill the baby Jesus.
  • God uses Joe’s dreams to direct him to live in Egypt. (Note the geography similarity to Jacob’s Joseph in Genesis.)
  • God speaks in a dream to call Joseph to return to Israel and leave the far country to return home.
  • God uses Joe’s dream to direct him away from Herod’s son and to live in Galilee region in the city of Nazareth.

Does Joseph Sleeps Alot?

  • I don’t think he slept too much, but it seems that is the time that Joseph was most receptive of God’s word and direction.
  • It is rare that God speaks through thundering clouds and a voice from heaven rubbles down.
  • It is more common that God speaks through other people, through music, through art, and through creation itself.
  • Not everyone pays attention during the sermon: ref. “Best Sleep I get all Week..”
  • Not everyone enjoys singing or pays attention to the words.
  • Not everyone is patient enough to listen after exhausting our list of petitions in prayer.
  • Some folk are too busy at work, at school or even in their own homes.

Joseph is one of those who God found his attention when everything else was laid to rest.

Where and When is God Most Likely to Speak to You?

Just as we might hope and expect to find presents under a Christmas Tree, we hope and expect to find God when we are a church. Gathered with God’s people doing good and right service, witness and worship. But there are times that we are too preoccupied with something else even when we are in the “God Zone.”

The original intention of Sabbath as a day of rest was not simply to cease working. It is a vacation from our vocation. A clearing of the table that cluttered with junk and find the level foundation where we can begin afresh.

As we continue in this season of Christmas, carve out time to be silent, open and patient for God.

It might be easier now that most of the holiday festivities are behind us. Possibly now is a better time to find Christ born anew than at the reenactment of the nativity.

The shepherds took a bigger than broadway production to get their attention.

The wise men looked to distant star and calculations and a map.

Marry and Joseph had their sleep interrupted.

Have you ever had trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep after waking up?

It seems that is my every-night struggle.

Rather than fight it, take that time listen for God.

Prayer journaling, FB chatting  (you’d be surprised who is up ready to pray with you), read the Psalms (That will put you to sleep for sure..lol) Just ask God to speak. Be quiet and listen.

No matter the time of day or night, we can sleep and work right through God’s message and guidance.

Out fears, worries, control, stubbornness and uncertainty can cloud our visions and keep us apart.

Turn the Christmas tree lights back on, light a candle (that you blow out before falling asleep), and pray for the Light of Word to Open your heart and mind.

Speak to us and give us ears to hear and hearts to trust and minds to believe.

Let us know what you hear from God.

Joseph did.. as we see how God protected, prepared, moved and shaped Joseph and his family throughout their lives. A pretty good example if you ask.

Merry Christmas.. See you next Sunday.. it will still be Christmas then too.

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