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Archive for category Repentance

Matthew 4:1-11 Get Away from Sin

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Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]

There have been an unusually high number of skunks trying to cross the road on Long Hollow and Burning Bush Roads.

The ride smells horrible for days, just when the odor relents there are other carcasses on the road and the stench continues for a few more days.

Sin and Temptation to Sin are equally as persistent

Confession Time: What are you tempted. Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Lust, Fear, Laziness, Apathy, Arrogance start my list. Whats on your list?

Jesus’ temptation covers a wide, wide range.

  • Physical Hunger: strength. It takes more than satisfying the body to eternally satisfied
  • Physical Health: heart and mind. It takes more than a single act of healing or protect to have eternal salvation
  • Self will: mind, you can fool yourself all of time, and that can fool everyone except God.

Lk 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’

  • one does not live by bread alone
  • do not put your Lord God to the test
  • away with you, Worship God and serve only him.

Jesus was tempted and tested.

  • Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness.
  • Jesus was tested at the most vulnerable time. (at the end of the fast,
  • Jesus was tested with integrity (at issue is the why of sacrifice, cross, why not just skip the suffering and hard parts.
  • Jesus was tested when the whole world was at stake

Temptation and Testing are Real for us

Jesus responds with scripture, not for the devil’s benefit but for his own reference and strength.

Bear Encounters  [Direct from the National Parks Service website] Ref to Jesus to show similarities are not on the nps site.

Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.

Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal.[Jesus starts the conversation directly leading the situation] Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.

Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.

Pick up small children immediately.

Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.

Make yourselves look as large as possible [Jesus started relying on scripture] (for example, move to higher ground).

Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.

Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.

If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.

Leave the area or take a detour. [Jesus ends the stand-off, and calls for the devil to leave.] If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.

Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.

Ultimately, it is having the strength to say, no, and get away from me.

 

 

Jesus models how to deal with temptation, Go back to the Garden, the same remedy

Address it for what it is, head-on

Rely on the strength of scripture and God’s presence to speak, not our spin or the twisting ideas of others.

Jesus is in charge, calling for the devil/evil to leave and have no power over. [The devil can’t make you do anything]

Choose, this day whom you will serve and follow God and no one else.

Practice: Get away from me.

Name sin and temptation for what it is in your life

Rely on God’s word and strength to be your starting point

Finally, Get away!! You take responsibility for your own choice and choose not to eat from the tree at the center of the garden.

 

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Matthew 3.1-12 Reclaiming Christmas “Brood of Viper Cards”

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In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [NRSV]

I recall my parents making drawn and silk screened Christmas cards as part of the family tradition of preparing for Christmas. Part of the handmade effort was the personal and creative gift the other was for economical reasons. Each year mom would draw some variation of Mary and Jesus, occasionally including Joseph, an angel or a star. Dad would do the printing. My jobs waving the paper for the ink to dry, affixing stamps and sealing the envelopes. After the fourth or fifth church, it was necessary to use a bulk permit to cover nearly 800 hundred cards to church members, family, and friends. Somewhere along the way, a simple gift became a chore and the tradition change to about 100 written cards. The issue was the growing gap of ingenuousness between the original gift to the present.

What had been a creative chore, became a dreaded task not to forget or offend.

What is the appropriate message to share at Christmas?

  • For some, it is the annual family letter. If I have one good thing to say about Facebook, is that it seem the longer FB is around, the fewer Christmas letters I receive.
  • For some, mention every attribute of a Bing Crosby festival but offers wishes for happy tidings and warm companionship with everyone.
  • May You feel God’s presence in the candles, that softly spread their glow at Christmas and may you experience the wonder of His abiding love, as He guides you, through each day of the coming year.

  • For others, the cards convey perfunctory words of acknowledging goodness and an unclear image of peace.
  • Thinking warmly of each of you and wishing your family an extra measure of comfort, joy and hope.

  • We have tried to send Christmas cards, but we typically send them out during the Christmas season, rather during the weeks of Advents.  [as late as St Patricks Day]

What about the Cards from the John the Baptist Card Collection?

  • Front: May your camel’s hair coat be scratchy and you locust be toasty, may your voice be one crying out I the wilderness this year. Inside: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
  • Front: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! Inside: Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • Cover: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor. Inside: He will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. 
  • Best Cover: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Inside: Bear fruit worthy of repentance.

John the Baptist reminds us to ask each other: for what are we preparing? Christ, ourselves or something else.

Our response is to say, “80 percent may be for me, my family, my idea, my traditions, my memories, my warm fuzzy feeling, and 20 percent is for you Jesus.” You complete the percents for yourself.

I have shared by Christmas list with Santa, I have begun to buy gifts for others, I have begun to get out decorations, I have begun filling my calendar with events, I have begun singing along with Christmas favorites, but

Can anyone tell Jesus is the driving cause of my actions, or have I left that to chance and hope others will guess what leads my heart and life.

It’s not about “Merry Christmas” it is about Jesus.

  • John the Baptist is not so worried about offending the Jewish leaders, as he is making certain everyone knows to be humbled before Christ.
  • Jesus is the King whose roads need to be made ready, not the government
  • Jesus is the is the one worthy to give himself for us
  • Jesus is worth shouting boldly about to the world

So what?

Advent, Preparing, Reclaiming the task of preparing: The example is baptism.

REPENT: Turning around and Remembering we are claimed by God, made new in Christ, forgiven and made whole through water and the Spirit. 

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1 Timothy 1:12-17 Best Sinner Make the Best Saints 20160911 RSUMC

churchleadbysinnersI thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [NRSV]

Christ Came to Save Sinners

Paul gives Timothy and the church a great motto of the early church. “Christ Came to Save Sinners.”
  • It’s not new but it remains our hallmark.
  • It is opposite of the image we have sold to the unchurch and de-churched.
  • It remains our message and work of being the body of Christ for the world.
The foxes are in charge of the hen house.

I am the gold medal Sinner

The image of winning a gold medal is not only a sign of excellent physical conditioning and performance, it is also a symbol of excellence in sportsmanship and honor.  That is why when athletes use performance enhancing drugs or when they break curfew and make fools of themselves or target for fools, that the world questions the meaning of the prize.
Paul names himself as the worst of sinners. The best at choosing poorly.
  • The best at choosing poorly.
  • The best at being bad.
  • The best at placing God’s seal of approval on our blindly seeking what we determine God wants for ourselves and the world.
*Turn to your neighbor and tell them all your sins and we will see who is the worst sinner among us. Too uncomfortable? Too transparent? too vulnerable?
We are in good company of sin, but that is not what we want to world to see?
This is why those who are sinful in the church mislead those who are sinful outside the church.
Bottom line: Different sins bring different levels of consequences in the moment, but all sin wedges our way between the heart of God for eternity.

Sin is the perfect place for Jesus to shine.

The corrective message to be able to reclaim this motto Paul shares with Timothy and the church is this: Where ever we find sin, is the place to look for and share the living, loving, life-change grace of Jesus Christ.
What’s sin? Any choice that I make for the use of time, thought, energy, resource/money, influence, that does not lead ourselves and others toward God
  • is working in the backwards direction,
  • is leading us away from the heart of God,
  • is our sin.

Sin is not a concrete list of Don’t and Do’s.

The lists help, but the lists are never inclusive enough to cover all the shades of grey.

Practice Application of Shining Christ through our Sin:

  1. Prevention:
    1. “Lead me not into temptation”
    2. Practice Piety (Wesley’s Rule #3)
    3. Membership promises to use the church as a place of faith building/practice
  2. Confession:
    1. When we see our on sin, own up and ask for grace/fresh start
    2. When others see our sins, we confess, make right what can be done and seek grace
    3. When we think we get away with ‘it’ know this day, God knows and hurts with us.
  3. Grace over Judgement:
    1. Jesus looks at our sins and see someone to love and bless
    2. Calls for our repentance (our desire and willingness to be transformed)
    3. Call us to go and sin no more, live in the God direction
      1. Not as a rule but as response to grace

REVIEW:

So are you a sinner? Yep!

Does Jesus want to make you new, no matter if we are the best sinner? Yep!

Does God gives us a minds, a spirit and the church for support to grow toward God.

Who needs to know this? Who can you sit down and explain this to? who needs to hear this from you? GO SHOW THEM how far you have come through Christ.

 

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Galatians 3.23-29 The MOST Troubling Text 20160619 RSUMC

unisexclothesNow before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,  for, in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSV]

Who knew Gene Roddenberry was as a fan of Galatians?

The Star Trek cultural iconic uniforms that allow for individuals to be known for their role in the community by the color of their uniform not matter their origin, citizenship, nor gender.

What if the clothes Christ places on us, rather than the garments and cultural markers we self-define one another?

  • What if those who wore blue were known as healers.
  • Teachers, Grower and Designers in Green
  • Administrators and Safety persons in Golden Rod
  • Builders, Helpers, Support persons in Red
  • Orange for those who Harvest and celebrate
  • White for those who are wisdom and faith-sharers
  • Black for those who comfort and counsel
  • Brown..

Known by the clothes of Christ.

  • Some would work to discover what Jesus wore and tried to replicate first-century apparel. but that would miss the mark of the text.
  • Some would be looking at the blended areas of overlap where roles cross in different situations and contexts.
  • Some would not like the color assigned and protest

But think for a moment, what if we wore the gifts, graces, ministries and presence of Christ as we wear our clothes.

It surprises me that the first question that people ask about ‘my/our’ church is about our dress code. Not that we have a formal dress code, most folks would want folks to be ‘in’ the fellowship with us no matter what close they might wear.

But we follow that with a few qualifications, even if we don’t say them aloud:

You don’t have to wear a coat and tie or dress, just be clean and neat.

We live in a time when folks have extremes about clothes, fashion is a billion dollar industry for nearly every price point of our society.

We also have a culture that would rather buy or receive something new than wash and care for the clothes we have. How does this culture connect with our being clothed by Christ.

One Time Use for Christ

  • We wear difference clothes for different occasions.
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity.
  • We wear something for a season
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity
  • We wear something until we wear it out or outgrow it or tired of it.
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity
  • We wear something so people will respond to us in a certain way.
    • Jesus Clothes us for God’s Work
  • We wear something to wear to work
    • Jesus empties himself and wants to work through us
  • We judge and value by what we wear
    • Jesus loves who we are with nothing to show

Walter Wangeren Jr’s Rag Man short story invites us to allow Christ to clothe and mark us for service.

People will misuse this passage from Galatians to say that whatever group society might divide and define us is acceptable, but a closer listen to the whole message of Paul’s letter and his message about Christ defining us.

Look in the Jesus Mirror: Who does Jesus See “in Me?”

Does Jesus see me as Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, tall or short, etc. Jesus sees me as I am, and no matter how the world defines me, Jesus sees me as:

  • Worthy of his life
  • Worthy of his grace
  • Worthy of his ministry
  • Worthy of his service
  • Worthy of his praise
  • Worthy of his devotion

The things that we use to limit and divide, Jesus knows, Jesus is not blind, but Jesus sees in us far more than we might see in ourselves.

Paul’s invitation is to see each other as Christ see us

  • see each other as Christ sees
  • see the value Christ sees in us
  • love the persons Christ sees in us and in one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Luke 13.1-9 Lent3 Bearing Fruit Let’s Get Figgy 20160228

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At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “ [NRSV]

Shootings, terror incidences, oppresses and abuses!! It feels as if each day brings terrible news of violence and tragedies. We either struggle to renew our claim to hope or add to the calluses built on the previous tsunamis of chaos and generations of apathy.

But from these witnesses of evil we look and hope for the good. We hear people ask:

  • Is the racism of the systems that cause police to unjustly do their jobs or is it the lawlessness of thug culture to blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are we to blame drugs and alcohol, those who produce and traffic them, or those who use them for the death and mayhem associated with their abuse, or those who stand by and watch to only direct blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are those killed as victims of holy wars made especially righteous for their martyrdom or are they only casualties of evil. Where is the good? Are we safe? Are we Saved?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do bad people seem to get away with anything?
  • Why do the good die young?
  • Did those faithful and innocent folks loose salvation because their deaths were tainted with the evil acts of an oppressive government? This question, like those above are put to Jesus for understanding:

A Question, An Answer. A Warning, and a Parable.

Jesus is asked a question. He gives a straightforward answer. He adds a warning and teaches with a parable.

  • Is the life of a faithful person of more value than the life of a criminal?
  • Is the life of a victim more important than the life of an oppressor?
  • Is the life of an innocent person of more worth than the existence of a thug?
  • Is the life of a politician worth less than a… well you know what I mean.

Jesus gives an answer:

Are you ready? The answer is.. No!

Not complicated, not filtered, not qualified, no need for interpretation. Just, No.

No the life of the innocent, the victim, the faithful one is no less valued to God than the life of the criminal, the oppressor, or the thug.

  • Which leads to Jesus’s warning.
  • Our salvation, value/existence are connected to our relationship with God in this life.
  • WARNING: Worry about repenting more than blaming.
  • Worry about grace instead of rules and laws

Focus on God instead of yourself or anything that leads you away from God.

Crazy Questions: This warning leads us to ask questions:

  • Are the Jews Going to Heaven?
  • Are the Muslim Lost?
  • If someone has not been baptized are they saved?

Answer is not about words and thoughts as much as it is about actions

Jesus answers with a WARNING:

  • Were they trying to live a life that leads to God?
    • Can you look at their lives and see God at work in them?
  • Were they working with the hope of finding God?
    • Were they working to assure themselves an entrance ticket or a relationship with God?
  • Was God an add-on to a host of things they did?
    • Was God the reasons they woke up live and lied down to rest?
  • Are you more worried about what you can’t control
    • or more assured with what God CAN control?

The Warning: Don’t live or die without repenting.

REPENTANCE: Turning one’s life toward God’s heart.

  • Repentance is not about the words we speak and the thoughts we think
  • Repentance is the fruit of a searching heart
  • Repentance is the evidence of our struggle toward God and overcoming evil.
  • Repentance is active, observable and gives at witness to others and encouragement to ourselves.

The Parable: Jesus uses a time of worry, fear and evil as a time for faith and fruitfulness.

The Fig Tree

It should be cut down, but it is not, because the gardener has patience and grace

The prescription is for intentional work, nutritious effort and waiting for fruit.

The Goal is fruit

  • The Process is Grace
  • The Danger is to
  • Not work
  • Not Study, Struggle and Share
  • To end up empty

The Challenge:

  • This is a day to work on the relationship
  • This is a day to study, pray, serve, forgive, love, teach, question, grow
  • This is a day to look for the presence of God bearing fruilt
  • If there is not fruit, the get to work.

BECAUSE: No fruit waists the soil, wastes the trust, wastes the grace, wastes the time.

So What?

  • The question is not about are we saved?
  • The question is God’s presence obvious in my life, thought, words, and actions?
  • The question is what am I waiting for, if not for God?
  • Are the things and thoughts that consume me, bringing God closer to me and closer to God’s people, or not?
  • If you don’t see the fruit, get to work, add some fellowship, worship, study and service and wait for God to work through God’s process.

Begin by the act of spiritual inventory:

Do I need to repent? Do I need God? Want God? Have I got it covered?

Ask your neighbor: Where do you see God at work in my life? Tell your neighbor the truth because their salvation weighs in the balance.

Or keep to yourself, mind your own business, assume the best and stay away from your enemies the best you can… that is not what Jesus said.

Jesus said, the harvest is coming, surly. Where’s fruit? (Where’s the beef? dated, ref)

—–Ramblings

-When we gather with one another at the funeral home or around the pews at times of shared grieving, we struggle for comfort and perspective and utter questions

-As each day grows closer to the November election, the shouts and rants of politicians and publicists point rear-view fingers of blame, current insults of shame, and future dreams of promise filled salvation for those on their side. Some are compelled to take sides, while others retreat into the camps of apathy and indifference.

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