Archive for category Trust
Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. [NRSV]
I have such wonderful memories of racing out from Emerson to Euharlee and trying to beat the long coal train heading to-and-from the Bowen. It is so good to be back. I have been here on a cold and snowing morning when it was only two, and no more and we had Good Preaching. So I hope that is the case today. I am proud to see the growth of the ministries and good work at Oak Grove and am honored to be with you today.
I began to think back about the years I was pastor, student and neighbor. The years would have been between 1985 and 1989. Some remarkable things happened while we were in ministry together:
• The infamous “New Coke” was released, The Titanic found, The first report of Mad Cow disease
• and Madonna was holding the place Taylor Swift holds today. Michael Jackson released his “Bad” album and MTV actually played music videos.
• The Kroger in Cartersville and Town Center Mall opened. The news of the Atlanta Olympics was
• The movies out during that time included: Back to the Future, Top Gun and Dirty Dancing
• Some notable songs were: Walk like an Egyptian, The theme from Phantom of the Opera, and We are the World.
• Imagine back to the time of the start of the Internet, the first Game Boy and Nintendo, The first intel processor and MS Office and Windows debuted.
• We were witnesses of Haley’s comet, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and removal of the Berlin Wall with Mr Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.
• People were watching: “The Cosby Show”, “Cheers”, “Hill Street Blues”, Johnny Carson, Magnum PI and the start of the Simpsons.
We are not the same people today. The world has changed and is changing in a whirlwind of transformation. As our denomination looks ahead to the Winter of 2019 we know that more change is to be expected.
As important it is to look back and remember from where we have come, it is the witness of the magi that call us to look to the present and prepare for the future.
I have always found it remarkable that the Bible contains the story of people of faith who look for God in the movement of the starts, in a distant country with a different culture and perspectives and yet God is self-revealing in all creation.
I had a conversation with young man in his mid-twenties who was convinced that there was no need for God. The wonders and marvels of creation were but the finely tuned change of random variables that brought him more peace and “common sense” to his perspective. I asked him from where did the forces of gravity, fission, fusion, physics, mathematic and love evolve. He uncomfortably had no clear answer except to say they were only explained as observations that followed rather than formed the universe. He left the conversation and went home the same person. I hope that some of the conversation helped change his fears and desire to control rather than to follow and trust.
We live in a divided culture that is more segregated than at any moment in our lifetimes. The struggles leading through Civil Rights Era and the Civil War are not our finest moments. Now more than ever are we needing to make a life-giving, hope-sharing, love-trusting impact on the world around us.
When I was at Oak Grove I was married to Sarah Jane, who search the Cassville Church for a couple of the years. We enjoyed covered dish dinners, singings, and being with you in worship and in your homes. That is no longer the relationship that shapes my life. She loved the idea of being married much more than being married to me. I didn’t share that at the time, as I was immature and unwilling to share what it mean to fully share what it means to be a community of faith. I finally learned that 1) clergy are people who struggle with marriage too, 2) I’d be happier unmarried or married for a few years than to be miserable for 50 pretending a marriage. 3) I have learned that God’s path for us is only as straight and narrow as our willingness to trust. But grace goes before, with and behind us.
Now I have three children: Susanna at Stanford, Luke at 1st Leu in the AF, and Frances a sophomore studying AP Chinese and my wife Wendy is beginning her second career in Insurance. (If you ever seen the Hot-ones sign, a Hardees star, a Georgia Tourism commercial or a magazine in a plastic bag you have seen her work.) The past ten years we have cared for her parents in our home, her mom having Dementia and her father having Kidney failure, was not the road that we had planned, but God has carried us through a different way that blessed and shaped us profoundly.
Why the Wise-men passage on Home Coming?
During my years at Emerson and Oak Grove, Singer, James Taylor, released a song by David Bailey called, Home By Another Way. David Bailey was the son of a Presbyterian minister. As a fellow preacher’s kid the song resonated with me: Here was a famous hippy trippy ballad rocker singing about a bible verse: Not the paths that typically cross. Listen to the lyrics of his song:
Those magic men the Magi, Some people call them wise, Or Oriental, even kings, Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus, They sure enjoyed their stay, Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme
They went home by another way
Steer clear of royal welcomes, Avoid a big to-do, A king who would slaughter the innocents, Will not cut a deal for you, He really, really wants those presents, He’ll comb your camel’s fur
Until his boys announce they’ve found trace amounts, Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh
Time to go home by another way
Home is where they want you now, You can more or less assume that you’ll be welcome in the end
Mustn’t let King Herod haunt you so, Or fantasize his features when you’re looking at a friend
Well it pleasures me to be here, And to sing this song tonight, They tell me that life is a miracle, And I figured that they’re right, But Herod’s always out there, He’s got our cards on file
It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch, Old Herod likes to take a mile
It’s best to go home by another way
Home by another way
What does it mean to Go Home, by another way?
To God home is hopefully a place of security, grounding and belonging.
Hear the Good News: God’s home, “Oikos”, is with us! With us!
It starts in a garden, it travels in a wilderness, it crosses paths in the crucifixion, it opens through an empty tomb, it blow as the wind around us, and surrounds us.
We are not who were once were:
In Christ we are those who make straight the paths for others
In grasp of the Holy Spirit we are those who open hearts and conversations
In the love of God we are those who God is creating new life and ways of living.
I regret that I must leave without a longer visit but I am leading a class for the district to build our skills in sharing Difficult Conversations as churches and church folks. As I look back on the Roads and Paths that God has lead, carried, and immersed me, I see at:
• Oak Grove taught me that God can take a mustard seed an make something grand and purposeful beyond our dreams.
• Grant Park I learned from one of the most diverse congregations in the Southeast what it means to share love
• In some other congregations I learned what looks like when we live in fear, pride, greed and worship of self.
• At Candler and Gammon I learned how to prepare for God to use me in changing ministry conditions.
• At Rock Spring I am ready to see how God will lead us into being a relevant part of the body of Christ in the 21st century.
The message I have received from much prayer, much prayer, much study, much conversation, much reflection, writing and reading is this:
1. Change is to be assuredly expected. (It is ok to embrace change, WHEN God leads us.)
2. What will be has not yet been revealed.
3. But when it is revealed: Count on seeing Jesus or not seeing at all.
• Therefore it is all important to make our home in God who does not change.
• Therefore it is essential that we find our way through what has been revealed.
• Therefore it is our purpose, passion and path to stick with Jesus, not for our sake but for Christ.
God Lord, we give thanks for these and all other blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. [NRSV]
Apostle Paul drawing on God’s promise and covenant with Abraham to teach about faith
This is one of those passages that helps iron out wrinkles between the Old and New Testaments. Abraham, father of the Hebrews, makes covenant with God. Paul is bridging communities around the topic of faith. As we know people can be divided over our understandings concerning faith.
The deal was Abraham was to trust God to be God and keep God’s promises and God would make Abraham and Sarah the great-great-great grand parents a thousand times over.
First this passage reminds us of God’s timing. God works through generations of time and relationships.
Second God works through individuals, Abram and Sari
Third God works through grace and faith rather than right thinking or right acting.
The central message and lesson is about faith
I suggest that we live in a time that is empty of faith, we would rather have proof.
We live in a time where people are dividing and dying over be correct instead of living in relationship with God and one another.
The world hungers and thirst for The wholeness, strength, peace and loving power God has for us, but on our terms and in our time.
The absence of faith is seen in the covenant breaking
The criticisms of Billy Graham for his focus and perspective of theology, remyinds us that being faithful is seldom the popular thing.
Family friends and denominations splitting over words and ideas reveals an absence of faith and trust in God.
So what does it mean to trust God to be God?
Covenant living is God promising to love, provide, guide, empower, and comp,eye what is broken and missing from our best efforts.
Trusting God vs Trusting our Insurance policy
Trusting God vs Trustig our contracts
Trusting God vs Trsuting our value
Trusting God vs Trusting
Promises to love us
Promises to guide and lead us
Promises to journey with Us
Promises to save us from sin and self
The me I am is who I design or am I the me God sees in me?
By my choices I am becoming my actual self
By my failures, ignorance and self interest I become someone other than the Self God hopes I will become
By God’s love and grace God judges my brokenness and fills in the games and makes me into my whole self.
So ingrained in our freedom to choose that we at our highest self when we have no need for God, but only be being true them myself as decided by myself than my self is valued, whole and this good.
Millions of nasty brutish folk doing the good they desire neglecting those who are different, or less or greater or other
Secondarily is the tendency that if I’m Ok, your ok. That is if I workout my own salvation and identity that you are left to do your own thing and I have no opbligatio. Or responsibility to you or any other. I’ve got my hands full working on my own stuff that I have little to nOtho get left to give for the other.
From John Wesley’s sermon on ““almost Christian”
An Almost Christian
1. May Act justly and kindly and do good
May Speak the Truth
May Give as one is able to help
May Have the look and sound of godliness
May Behave well and follows all the rules
May Speaks well of others
2. May avoid Wine lies gluttony doing no willful wrong
May do all the good one can, friend or enemy
May take part in all the church has to offer, whenever the doors are open
May pray and ask for Prayer that others would think more highly of them
May be the role model of serious and respectful intentions
May ask that God “have mercy on me”
3. Daily prayers out warmly
One missing thing: Sincerity of Faith
How to tell the difference?
Wicked follow to avoid punishment or to be approved
Sinner follows to be save because he/she knows they are not hug without God
Wesley’s words we “altogether christsin vs almost Christisn”
All together is
1. to love God. Who I’m I without you of lord
2. love of neighbor. Corinth 13
3. To trust that we are saved and made whole being spiritually born of god. (This the our victory, fulfillment. [Wholeness]}
Even devils believe, vs faith
Sure trust that God saves us and without Christ we are nothing, this is faith
The test is given we with sincerely ask before God, ourselves and the church;
: ““am I all together Christian or an almost Christian?”
What is the truth, and what do you intend to do about it?
Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]
Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.
Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:
- Because of Love
- Because we have limited Time
Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.
Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE
- Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
- Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
- Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.
Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.
Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.
Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.
- Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
- Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
- Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.
Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?
We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a
- self-gratifying society,
that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.
How do we share our faith in these conditions?
- One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
- One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
- One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)
Why not let someone else share their faith?
- God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
- Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.
Examples of Loving
Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…
Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.
Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.
Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.
Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.
Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.
The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.
This is the daily, “home work”
love others, participate in community life
1. In response to God’s love, AND
2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [NRSV]
Making Disciples: What is a life worth?
A very difficult thing asked of me was after mom’s death, from being hit in a head-on car accident was to give a value of her life. The attorney asked my brother and me, what was the value of mother’s life for the court case. To come up with a number for the judge. The determination was to be made on what her contributions to the common good would be. The value of her reading to middle school students, mentoring graduate school students, visiting in prison ministry, writing Sunday school lessons, volunteering at her church, and the impact would have a neighbor and citizen. If one were compensated for volunteering at a reasonable rate a figure could be determined for the projected number years she would likely live to serve and that number came to roughly $200,000. But was that value of her life? The young man who drove his uninsured luxury car into her had no assets, and his family had twenty-six previous suits against them, so the final assessment of her life was valued at 1000 hours of community service and no dollars. Is that justice? Is this how God measure our lives? For me, it was a life lesson about the misplaced value of one’s life.
What is your life worth to God?
- You are worth the life of his only child,
- You are worth designing energy, matter, gravity, physics, and mathematics,
- You are worth sharing a relationship with God.
- God has paid for our life, but does not force us to pay God back,
- God offers a way to joy, peace, and wholeness, yet wants us to want to appreciate, trust and follow.
- God says your life is worth it all, hoping you will choose the life God paid for you to live.
The journey of our life is about what we do with the time we have: Choosing God or humanity as our highest goal.
Discipleship: It Ain’t Easy
- Peter declares: God forbid it to be difficult, hard, challenging, unpleasant or demanding
- Jesus responds, Get away your evil thoughts away from me.
- It is evil lived from only a human point of view.
Remembering we are Spiritual People in a Physical Incubator.
There are times that we make following Jesus even harder,
this is a charge against the church if we hold the keys and call the shots for what it means to follow, then there is room for abuse
Jesus models choosing God’s call for his life or the voice of emotions and reason alone.
Peter says: Don’t take the hard path, choose the path most traveled.
Sometimes things get in the way of our best plans:
A story about a country farmer who had a mule with blocked-up plumbing, he called the new veterinarian in town to come help. The young vet had a bottle of large laxative pills that modeled the phrase, ‘horse pill’ that was fast acting and guaranteed to unstop the most stubborn gastric stoppages. He found a long piece of pipe with a contraption to secure one end into the mouth of the mule and the other end he would insert the pill and make certain the pill went right to work. He secured the pipe and straps around the mule, added two horse pills, took a deep bread, but the ass blew first.
Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block
setting one’s mind on human things instead of divine things
Pray right now!
ACTION: “Lord, forgive me for being a stumbling block..”
- Disciples recognize that life devoted to Jesus is greater than the life we can make without him. (justice)
- Disciples recognize that life is a gift and God gives us a choice to use our life as we choose. (freedom)
- Disciples recognize God desires good for us but does not force God on us. (meaningful relationship)
- Disciples recognize that a good life is not measured by having stuff, or a comfortable life. (worth/value)
- Disciples recognize God is willing to follow the choice we are called to make. (sacrifice)
Choose God’s self over the self you choose
To follow God is to find:
- meaningful relationship,
- worth, value and
in 2017 We live in mountain top period of thinking that is human focused.
- What is best for humanity, the majority, the minority
- What is best for me and those like me
- My right and the right of others to choose what it good and right
- It’s my life, my decisions, my definition, my right, my understanding, my dream, my ideal
When we exclude God or even allow God to slip into second place, we choose with the best of humanity has to offer, but without the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God.
When hearing this when others say things like: (Human limitations)
- Love me or accept me for choosing myself
- It is my life, my will
- Accept me for choosing my own way,
- Accept me for believing the common denominator is our safest place.
- Shame on you for not accepting my choice made from my perspective.
The court of public opinion may have the majority of human perspective and still miss the mind and heart of God.
Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen, is telling Jesus,
you know what is best for yourself,
we don’t want to see you suffer
You have God powers, just zap trouble out of your way,
The Heart of the passage: Losing and Finding
finding ourselves in following Jesus
The Journey of sharing our faith is affirmed where our trust, faith, and allegiance is grounded.
Faith means we see that for all you and I can do, we never can do enough on our own
Trust God means we know we are awesome creations with great minds and dreams, but without God death is our worst limitation.
Walking with Christ, we bring together the best of being human into a relationship with God.
Choosing a different path is ends in trusting what is evil, broken, limited, empty and apart from God.
How many people do you know today who have:
evil rules in their lives?
experience brokenness in their bodies, relationships, minds, and hearts?
find themselves living at the limits or out of bounds on a daily basis?
someone who feels lost and empty and distant from God and God’s people?
These are the people who need the gift of Christ that guides us..
- Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
- Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
- Step three for today: acknowledge it is not easy, and we need Christ to lead, bless, carry, push and call us on.
Let’s get to the journey today
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [NRSV]
We are Spiritual
- Children of God
- Living to fulfill/follow the Spirit
- Preparing to inherit God’s kingdom
We Suffer Spiritually
- Comparing Physical and Spiritual
- I’m only human, I’m just a man/woman/child is not our spiritual excuse
- We live in hope of being set free from suffering
Groaning of Labor Pains
- The mixed blessing of suffering for the gift of life.
- Groaning inwardly in anticipation of adoption
- Trusting hand hoping in what is known but not seen
- Acknowledge the reality of suffering and Labor of faith
- Call for encouraging the children of God
- Hold one another and our self in patience.
- Know it is struggle to live in the Spirit
- Know we are not alone nor forgotten
- Trust God who loves, saves and call us is worth the work and waiting.
Revealed in Christ
The Big Change in the Meal
Who am I in Christ Jesus
Easter People Celebrate
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]
Here the Good News:
While we were still sinning, God loved us. Sending Christ to make us whole.
The Core of this passage from Hebrews is found in two parts:
- a. It is impossible for us to eradicate of sin
- b. Jesus does what is impossible for us to do, on our behalf
Grace: God loves us, God hopes we will complete the love, Offers us Faith, We trust, love complete.
God sanctifies us through the body of Jesus
Through the body
- Before we were born God knows us. God is working prophylactically on our behalf.
- Before we have any responsibility of sinning, we have God’s helping grace.
- It is God choosing for us to have a body, born in a broken world, God joins us in the journey.
- All different, unique both autonomous and interdependent
The Goal is Wholeness, Perfection, and completeness.
- God is working before we are ready to work
- God is making a way where there is no way
- God is ultimately ready to complete our brokenness
WHAT IS OUR PART?
This Sanctifying process of Maturing God’s work in our body, time, live, and even then God holds our hands through the muddy, mucky mire.
The Equation of Grace
The maturity of faith is the growing in trust through practice.
Practice: This is the root of my suggestions of “homework”
We practice, stretch, test and mature our faith by taking steps toward God
- Christian Fellowship
- Christian Accountability
- Witnessing, Sharing, Teaching, opening our faith to others
God is not interested in our management of the rules as much as our practice of trusting God in each day.
- Practice with our words
- Practice with our bodies
- Practice with our actions
- Practice with our thoughts, songs, and stories of faith
- Practice with our Hospitality, Worship, Intention Study, Service, and Generosity.
Our purpose is not the be right, correct and blameless, our goal is to be faithful.
- Our Confirmation Class has begun discussion of this journey
- Our SS Classes and Small Groups practice the community
- Our church is the struggle to be the body of Christ with our bodies.
- This is the practice of Lent and the life as an Easter People.
Let’s help one another practice.
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.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSV]
Core Values of One Made New in Christ
Core Value Number 1 (Murder with Words)
How you communicate affects your relationships and your identity.
Sticks and Stones AND words can kill someone’s spirit, reputation and ability to be included into the community.
Word’s spoken in anger carry poisoned daggers that kill one’s spirit, identity, reputation and relationship to the community.
- “Well I only thought it, I didn’t do anything wrong”
- “What’s in my own head doesn’t hurt anyone.”
- “I was so angry at what I saw on FB I had to teach them a lesson, I didn’t kill anyone.”
Core Value Number 2 (Satisfying Self in a Covenant Relationship)
How we respect one another, affects both them and us.
Sexual sins occur first in the heart and head. Stop the sin there to avoid going further to lessen the effect on others. But best of all see that sin occurs before the action.
- Don’t be looking
- Don’t just love the one you are with
- Don’t invalidate the person by objectifying the person and justifying a behavior that is harmful to God, self AND the other person.
Our society has so twisted the self-satisfaction, self-pleasing and self-affirming our sexual selves has become paramount in movies, songs, and laws and even in the church.
Core Value Number 3 (Don’t Look at the Line, much less cross it)
Marriage is the basis for integrity and of the family unity.
Marriage is a covenant with God, while you can’t change your spouse you can add to their relationship with God or you can pull them away from God by your actions of both fidelity and by infidelity. Everything we do affects our spouse. Don’t get into a marriage covenant if you are not holding God the whole time because marriage is not always easy nor simple.
Core Value Number 4 (Integrity Speaks truth in love)
Speaking as a person of integrity.
Speak the truth.
Don’t dodge the difficult conversations, don’t blame anyone or anything. Speak with respect, certainly don’t add God’s name to your ideas, thoughts or excuses. The practice of taking an oath or swearing our testimony assumes that most of the time we are untruthful except on these special circumstances.
- “Don’t lie to me, we are in church.” But if we weren’t at church it might be alright to bend the truth, is the implied false assumption.
- “I’m not under oath” I don’t have to be completely truthful with you because we are not in court. The rules are flexible to benefit me, especially when I might be in the wrong.
- I said, “Yes, your honor, I believe I completely certain that No, I have no recollection of having said what you thought I said or did. That is my honest testimony”
Jesus said: The ten commandments were easy, I’m stepping up the game.
How will we ever measure up? Don’t be Discouraged:
Jesus model’s some real life issues that we twist:
Jesus said: you will need to out behavior the most devout religious leaders. Jesus said this knowing we also say/think things like:
- I want to be right
- Its what they do in the movies/tv, in songs, etc.
- I want there to be an absence of conflict, so it’s ok to keep quiet even if it is not true
- I want to be served and satisfied
- I want to be able to say/do whatever gets me out of this mess in the name of grace and love
- I don’t want accountability; I ask you to continue trusting me in grace.
- It’s my turn
The Remedy starts small:
Jesus begins with the small stuff.
- Start with how you treat the people that are around you every day.
- Be a truthful person of integrity
- Speak with strength, but know your words matter, speak truthfully.
- Speak with integrity
- Be one who respects boundaries
- Don’t objectify people
- Don’t forget marriage is about covenant and not being served
- If you are looking away from God, spouse or good, you are looking at what is evil, broken even in the name caring for ourselves.
- Speak with respect, boundaries, and integrity and you will be trusted, blessed and respected.
Don’t let your words kill someone’s spirit
Don’t objectify people in the name of pleasing yourself
Don’t believe you can buy your way out of sin
Don’t let your body kill your spirit.
Don’t think you are caring for your spirit by pleasing your body
Don’t believe your actions only harm yourself.
Don’t look for excuses, look for Christ.
Community Support: The Role of the Church
It is quick and easy for us to judge, blame and segregate ourselves in the name of protection or ideology.
- Help those who are blaming find Christ
- Help those who are destroying marriage to refocus on Christ/Covenant
- Help those who focus on pleasing themselves to see they sin and model loving them.
- Model speaking the truth instead of swimming in the ocean of blame, regret, fear, etc.
We are people of the New Life in Christ, Protect the heart of God within you and do not trade it for the world.
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. [NRSV]
Christ Came to for sinners like us.
One of the Core faith questions is: Why did Jesus have to die for our sins? If God created the world in the first place, why not just speak the word, MULIGUN or DO-OVER and “so be it!”?
How many backyard ball games have been remedied by the power of the “do over”?
The relationship God creates humanity for is one of mutual trust, respect, and love. When we trust our own will, when we disrespect God’s rules, and when we turn “love of God” into “love of self,” we give up the innocence, wholeness, and life. We have no more than our own life to offer, and if we give it up, then we have no relationship with God.
In the Garden of Eden, once sin broke the relationship, Adman and Eve were out of the God-relationship and had to work on their relationship with God rather than only enjoy a relationship with God.
In the Flood and Noah, God tries the do-over, but sin continues to show up as quick as the remedy cleans the way, sin returns and the same as before the cleansing.
God offers to keep the relationship for us, even if we break it, if we will trust God to provide, lead and love us. But the offer is short lived and God’s will is questioned and rejected.
In the “Shark Tank” deal, God offers 100% of the profits, gives 100% of the resources, for us to choose life instead of death, knowing we will throw the whole deal away again and again. To seal the deal: God gives us the life we cannot restore, at God’s full cost, because the one thing God desires most is that you be freed from death, freed from the power of sin and free to ‘be’ with God, all of us.
Still, we listen to voices of talking snakes, tempting devils, and convincing logic within our own minds and we throw the gift away.
For us, Sin: That which distances us from a relationship of trust and love with God and the People of God.
Traditional, the Cardinal Sins our favorite, go-to list that usually needs our attention:
- Wrath, and
Virtue: That which helps build a relationship of trust and love with God and the People of God.
- The Old Testament virtues are to Love God with all your
- mind and
- The New Testament virtues are
- Hope, and
We can spend all day a church, feed five hundred people and sing praises till the cows come home and with one little word, we fail God.
Look at the short list
- Pride, misplaced achievement
- Greed, the assumption that things and money are our peace and hope and joy.
- Lust, Self-gratification of power or the absence of love in our relationships, satisfying only the body or mind.
- Envy, Not being content or satisfied, but alway wanting.
- Gluttony, satisfying the body, thinking that daily bread will bring us wholeness.
- Wrath lost in Anger, anger is, at times a healthy response, but when anger seeks revenge and dominance we come to the dark side.
- Sloth. Apathy and Laziness, the waiting for what we deserve to be given to us.
The remedy and our salvation:
The Gospel Remain, Jesus Christ who dies for our sins and his resurrection for our eternal life.
Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested
- We come to communion as it is our reaffirming Christ’s life has been given for our life
- We come confession our sins and trusting God’s promise to save
- We come to the table to eat, not of gluttony, but of grace
- We come giving praise for God’s mighty acts and not our own
- We come because we see the wealth in a life of giving ourselves to God
- We trust God’s power is greater than our own.
- We come knowing that we are empty without God’s mercy
- We come knowing God would be justified in being angry with us, but instead God set’s a place for us at the table.
So come, You life is waiting at the table
- Gilligan’ s Island
pride, The Professor
- greed, Mr. Howell
- lust, Ginger
- envy, Mary Ann
- gluttony, Mrs. Howell
- wrath, The Skipper
- sloth, Gilligan
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Lion Witch and Wardrobe: Gluttony
- Prince Caspian: Envy
- Dawn Treader: Greed
- Horse and His Boy: Lust
- Silver Chair: Sloth
- Magician’s Nephew: Anger
- Last Battle: Pride
- STAR WARS
- Pride, Luke
- Greed, Boba Fett
- Lust, Han Solo
- Envy, Obi Won Kenobi
- Gluttony, Jabba the Hut
- Wrath, Darth Vader
- Sloth. StormTroopers?
- Pride, professor Gilderoy Lockhart
- Greed, Dumbledore of knowledge
- Lust, Snape for power
- Envy, Wormtail
- Gluttony, Duddley Dursley
- Wrath, Voldemort
- Sloth. Horace Slug-Hornn
Show Time Series
- Gwen as Wrath.
- Bridgette as Sloth.
- Lindsay as Lust.
- Beth as Envy.
- Courtney as Pride.
- Izzy as Gluttony.
- Heather as Greed.