Archive for category Uncategorized

1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?  But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. [NRSV]

  • Always be ready to make your defense 
  • an accounting for the hope that is in you;
  • do it with gentleness and reverence. 
  • Keep your conscience clear, 
  • baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—
  1. not as a removal of dirt from the body, 
  2. but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, 
  3. through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

Leave a comment

Luke 24:13-33 Walking, Talking, Sharing

walking

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. [NRSV]

Imagine having a four-hour walk home?

Travel experiences:  WALKING

  • We walk from our homes to our cars to parking lots to our destinations.
  • We might walk for “race-for-a-t-shirt” or
  • a fund or awareness event to show support
  • we might walk to exercise for health
  • we might walk on a hike to see the view
  • What about walking to be spiritual present with someone?

Many would say that’s not for me.

[Note: Honestly, I am not sure why mini-pilgrimages have not been the tradition on Easter afternoon?]

  • Maybe walk home from church on Easter?
  • Or, walk back to church Easter Sunday evening for communion?

Travel Stories can be very powerful.

When we travel with someone, we have concentrated time together.

  • Have your ever recounted funny, interesting or challenging events?
  • Past vacation?
  • Meet new friends who were strangers on a previous vacation. The Hymian’s
  • Events that happened where you are passing on the road?
  • Anticipating what will happen when we arrive at our destination?
  • Sharing common adventures

If you had four hours travel time. How would you use that time in your car?

Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?

If it did, What verses would you turn to reveal Jesus to a stranger?

Before we get to Bible verses:

  • Some people are better at striking up a conversation than others.
  • Some people are slow of heart to believe.
  • Some people know the details of the story yet they doubt or are still searching.

Excused assignment?

A: There is not one verse that reaches and convinces or convicts all people.

A: Some people are uncomfortable discussing their faith and spiritual life

A: I’m uncomfortable when people talk about their faith with it is different from mine.

A: Isn’t it more polite to not be pushy.

Question: What is Jesus’ model?

  • He is observant, see’s the sadness and disappointment
  • He is inquisitive, asking for clarification
  • He is instructional, drawing on scripture to transform the sadness and disappointment.
  • He is well studied, and well prepared to share.

One Easter Sunday, the first appearance of Jesus is modeling what disciples are called to do.

When the words are not enough, he resorts to actions.

There is a problem with the saying: “Your Actions may be the only Gospel someone sees”.

  • It assumes we have the heart of God in all our actions
  • It assumes how we act always reflects God
  • It assumes we are intentional about modeling our faith in all situations.
  • It assumes we know why we do the things we do in the name of Christ.

CONFESSION

All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.

I need to know the core of my faith before I rely on actions only.

Think of Train leaving the tracks

If I see the resurrection as God’s ultimate victory over death and complete sacrifice of love for you and for me and name that as the core of my understand of LOVE:

If someone says, I love peanut butter or I love you if you agree with my world view, then are they talking about the same LOVE?

Which do we value more?

God’s heart or our freedom?

God’s word or our comfort?

God’s grace or our opinions?

God’s hope or our answers?

God’s patience or our resourcefulness?

God’s work or our work?

God’s love or

Bottom Line: Easter people need to know the scriptures, AND be ready to show them in action, AND meet people at Christ’s table.

Leave a comment

Assurance 1 Peter 1:3-9 Benefits of Faith

assurance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,  so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [NRSV]

SALVATION

  • Kept in heaven,
  • protected by the power of God
  • an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading

SUFFERING and SUFFERING for our faith

  • You will know trials for a little time, but God’s salvation forever.
  • This is one of the most difficult to accept parts: God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • Living as a person of faith means:
  • Knowing you are ultimately love and valuable to God who gives us breath, lives, love and hope.
  • Choosing God’s ways AS our ways
  • Choosing God’s way as our ways when the world says, begs, models challenges us otherwise.
  • EXAMPLES

FAITH TESTED BY FIRE

  • Faith is more precious than gold
  • Love without Seeing
  • Genuiness of faith rather than Successfulness of FAITH
  • Faith is expressed in Praise, Glory, and Honor

ASSURANCE of REWARD

  • Rather than cut each other down, be challenged to live one another up.
  • Rather than focus on the loss in the moment, look to the hope in eternity
  • Rather than be devastated in the current disappointments, know Jesus is readily available to restore and renew us living as a commitment.

Athletes: commit to

Scouts: Getting it done and completing the task

Work: Doing what no one wants to do builds character and strengthen the team bond

Leave a comment

Luke 18.1-8 Who Finds Justice? 20161016

godjusticeThen Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city, there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” [NRSV]

Note: Jesus’s the new Parable method to teach God’s actions, kingdom, or love.
Parable Summary: Even those who are disrespectful and godless can show justice.
Lesson: God is ready to make you whole.
I’ve heard it said:He just ain’t right in the head. She just ain’t right in the heart. They ain’t right with each other.
  • He just ain’t right in the head.
  • She just ain’t right in the heart. They ain’t right with each other.
  • They ain’t right with each other.
Today we are talking about the idea and action of justice and I hope you will think if justice in terms of being made whole, complete or righteous.
The parable is taken from learning from worst-case example
To know God’s best-case example of making us right.
1. The example of the UN-godly judge knowing how to make things right but hesitant to do so.
2. With nagging persistence, the victim will not relent from asking, pleading, begging for justice.
3. When inconvenienced to the point, or annoyed to the limit, or a desired to see and hear her no more, the judge makes her loss whole.

It is one thing when it is your child in the grocery store saying: Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,  mommy, mommy.

It is another thing to hear someone else’s child drone the chant: Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,  mommy, mommy.

My questions are as follows

  1. What in the world does that child want?
  2. Why in the world does that parent not listen?
  3. If I were the child/parent what would I want an annoyed stranger to say or do about the situation?

Persistence Works!

Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising in 1885.[6] The saying he used is still being used today.

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

 Back to the text:

If we know children will ask with persistence, and
we know advertisers will reach out to us with persistence, and
we know widow made victim will seek justice with persistence
What do we know about persistently asking God to make us justified, whole, complete, right (righteous)?

God who breathes life and spirit into each of us.

  • Looks at our brokenness
  • Hear our persistent complaining
  • Knows our overwhelming frustration
  • See our rejection, failures, and weakness
  • and cannot wait to heal us, restore us, hear us, claim us, renew us, and empower us with new life.

In this parable God is the one persistently calling and begging and pleading for you and for me.

How many people do you know who feel: broken, guilty, afraid, ashamed, rejected, alone, or weary?

Even if it is only one: You have the opportunity to show them the love, saving, life-giving power of Jesus Christ as quickly as you open your mouth to tell, your heart to receive, your hands to serve and your ears to listen and your heart to bless.

The Catch

For all the persistence God offers, there are those who continue to not listen and there are those who know and do not tell/share/show what has save themselves.

When Christ looks at us, does he find someone who offers God’s justice?

When Jesus shows up, in the end of days or on an ordinary Tuesday,

  • Does he find us making people whole?
  • Does he hear us telling the Good News?
  • Does he see us being peacemakers?
  • Does he watch us bless and forgive one another?

or

  • Does he find us making divisions
  • Does he hear us tearing relationships
  • Does he watch us picking fights
  • Does he see us sitting back, holding back, knowing what we know and doing nothing to make others whole, complete, nor right

This is place where we get to work

If governments and special interest groups corner the market on social justice
Who will tell the world about Jesus with the persistence of one who knows they are lost with that saving grace?

Leave a comment

Romans 12:9-16 “Christian Living” 20160605 RSUMC

XinMYheartLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. [NRSV]

Down in My Heart

Do you remember that Camp/ VBS Song: I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart! Where? ” Down in my heart!”

It is a great reminder of where the core of the Christian life begins.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ might very different than being a Christian

Paul is building a case for the life and Christain community that is ours to emulate.

Let your love be genuine.
I love fresh lemonade verses I love you even when you misbehave.
Hate evil.
Strong words: Let’s be clear about evil. Don’t vilify the person, hate the unGodly things, attitudes, look past the words, to the other persons’ heart.
Hold on to Good.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride; not every handle is one you need to hold.
Devotion to God models our love of others.
Start at the beginning, love God first, greatest commandment.
Honor others, first.
Think from the other side first before you post or speak.
Life for God with a Passion
Don’t leave home without a case of Zeal for God.
Don’t be lukewarm or worse.
Keep the Spiritual fires warm while serving the Lord

So, if you are telling, teaching, explaining what it means to be a Christian:

1. Christian living begins in the heart.

Genuine heart hates evil, but holds on to Good, models devotions, respects we are different, but is passionate about living for God.

Attitudes in Action

Second to our Heart are the thoughts and ideas in our head.

Facebook and all social media are easy targets to see where people, who may have great hearts for God, but choose to forget or not to listen to their heart.

Here is the test:

  • If you find you can share Joyful Hope on Facebook, sign in!
  • If you can use it to patiently see the world through others’ perspectives, log on!
  • If you can use the media to offer your heart’s passionate prayers? Get social.
  • If not, don’t sign in, don’t log on, get to heating up your God’s Spirit in you instead.
1. Christian living begins in the heart of God
2. Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.

Our Witness in Community

To live in a Christian is to draw on the heart relationship we have with God, filter through what is joyful, hateful, shameful, grace-filled, good and profane and use this perspective in the world. Too many people are Christ-like in their hearts OR minds but get derailed using these tools in the world beyond themselves.

Paul’s list of sharing our witness in a relationship with others.
+? “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”
Interesting, Paul begins with helping the “Lord’s People” in need.
+ Practice hospitality
Have an open heart and mind that welcomes others.
+ Bless those who persecute you.
Know that not everyone will return kindness and love and grace.
-Do not curse, rather bless
Take the high, Godly, Good Road, don’t blame, bless and grow away from evil.
+ Rejoice with others
Celebrate when the news is good, and Joy is clear
+ Mourn with others
Be open to comfort, even when you are not the one hurting
+ Live in Harmony
Find ways to get along without having to agree with everyone.
– Do not be proud
Remember God loves and saves you, AND everyone else.
– Don’t be conceited, Associate with the poor and wealthy
Be a friend to those who are easy and difficult to live with.

Being a Christian is easy if you rare filling out a survey.
More people are identifying themselves as less Christian these days.

  • What does it look like when we say we are Christian but have lost hold of the heart of God?
  • What does it feel like when we say we are Christian people but have forgotten or never learned how to find our way home and settle for where we are rather than where we belong?
  • What does it sound like when we have our faith all worked out in our head, and heart but other folks don’t see, hear or experience God around us?

Paul reminds the church at Rome and Rock Spring:

It takes all three, growing in the heart of God, filtering through good and evil, to model our relationship with everyone.

Thank goodness we come to the table to start our journey today.

Here is our grace to begin anew and fresh.

Come.

Christian living begins in the heart of God
Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.
Christian living must interact with the community and reflect God at work through us.

1 Comment

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

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Youth Sunday

A Sunday off

Leave a comment

John 10:22-30 “Faith Snatchers” 20160417 RSUMC

RayGASmile

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” [NRSV]

The Festival of the Dedication

A Jewish Feast of Lights celebrating a time between the Old and New Testament to the Maccabean Revolt when the temple was reclaim and rededicated after the Jews were forced to give up the temple and the practicing of their faith.

This celebration is better known as Hanukkah. When the temple was reclaimed only one small jar of oil could be found to light the temple lights. The jar was enough oil to burn the lights for one day, yet the oil burned for eight days.

It is at this celebration of reclaiming the temple worship, the miracle of lights, and a restoring of the faith by the Jews that Jesus makes the claim that leads him to the cross.

John 10:30 The Father and I are One.

There it is: Jesus said it as plainly as at any other point in the Gospels.

  • The I Am that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob called father.
  • I am that father. I am, I Am with you.
  • The I Am the Moses saw in the burning bush and the cloud guided them in the wilderness.
  • The Spirit that moved over the face of the earth at creation, I was the one working that day.
  • I’m the Light of the World.

So During the Festival of Lights, Jesus, the Light of the World, is Revealed.

  • How are we willing to shine the light of Christ on the darkness in the world?
  • When are we willing to enlighten others that we filter life through our faith
  • Can you see yourself, filled with the ‘oil’ or fuel of the Holy Spirit to be a vessel for Christ?

Live as one connected to God.

  • They might take my body, but not my spirit
  • They might take my things, but not my identity
  • They might take my position, but not my self-worth
  • They might take my health, but not my eternal life
  • They might take my reputation, yet God will never let go.

 Why Wouldn’t we trust/reveal our Christ connection?

There are those people and things that grab at our connection.

Driving through a neighborhood, my phone wifi trying to logon to just any signal it can find. When my setting is to grab onto anything, even in the name of saving some money, I am putting myself at risk.

  • Im not as pretty
  • I’m not as wealthy
  • I’m not as popular
  • I’m not as happy
  • I’m not as worthy
  • I’m not as important
  • I’m alone
  • I’m not appreciated
  • I’m not included
  • I’m lost and forgotten
  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t have enough
  • I’m not ready

Every time we listen to theise voice we pry away at God’s grip on our hearts. God will not let go, unless we ask him to let us go our own way.

How to I/Someone find the way back to God?

Ray Charles sings about it in our state theme song, Georgia on my Mind.

Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you”
[Words Revised by John’s Gospel]
I said [Jesus], oh [Jesus]
No peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps [Jesus] on my mind

Change lyrics of the World’s songs, hooks and teaser to reframe our connection with the one who will never let us go.

Leave a comment

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.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Mark 13.1-8 What Am I Building 20151115 RAUMC

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV] [NRSV]
What is God Building right now?

Some buildings become architectural wonders based on the grand scale of the building, the materials used in the construction and in the significance of the buildings purpose.

Jesus and the disciples are leaving the temp,e complex which was a trifecta of scale, resource and purpose. Herod’s temple complex was a collection of engineering marvels. Still visible and functioning 2000 years later are his “Ashlar” stones (building blocks/Legos). Foundation Amal course are 80 tons each and approximately 40’x8′ in size.

These are certainly the type of stones the disciples were referencing with Jesus at the temple. Jesus makes a matter-of-fact-statement about these mighty stones. Everyone will be over turned.

This small remark carries a timeless affirmation of God and struggle of humanity. No matter how much labor, ingenuity, time and craftsmanship that which is built by human hands will always also be just as corruptible as human beings.

The Good News

So what does it mean for God to put on corruptible clothes in the for and life of Jesus to reach out to us.

The temple complex included temple, palace, theater, that was double the size of King Solomon’s and there was no building complex in Rome any greater nor more lavish. Herod want Cesare to be at home when visiting the outer edge of the empire.

The instruction for disciples is to guard against those who falsely represent Jesus by placing God’s “hologram of authenticity” on their teaching.

The Core Four
Peter, James and John take Jesus aside and ask for some clear teaching
Explain this to me… For what are we preparing?

The disciples ask for a sign? What the date? When will this happen? In our life time? This week? Tonight?

Wars and terrible storms will be signs but they are only the beginning of the terrible.

The problem with “THE SIGN” as there have been wars, earthquakes and disasters of all kinds in every year…

I think Jesus’s warning in the text is much less helpful for those who want to put his return on the calendar. It is more obvious a statement without the mystery some would want to add.

When we see wars and disasters it is evidence that we living in a broken world. The sign are only the earliest signs of God’s timing.

So what do we make of the events of Paris?
It is a horrible evidence that evil is given more power than it should have.
To say that we pray for people who are victims of evil acts we not only suffer with them we also pledge to protect, defend and stop evil with good.
How long? The same question asked about the disciples then is ask again today.
God will not allow evil to forever.
God calls disciples to do the loving thing.
What is loving mean in the realities of evil…
Something has been born as is in a process of growing, struggling and maturing.
Allow God to do the building
Don’t rework the plan in your own image

Gods people prepare for God. Period.
God the architect and Jesus the carpenter are vocations that focus on structures.
What is God working to build these days?

When you hear about wars and threats f war, what does God want built?

When nations and politic fight amount themselves

When false teachers and persuasive leaders misguide their subjects

When their are earthquakes and famines all around, what needs to be developed as child develops and is born

Large stones, large buildings
What has been made by our hands is certainly perishable.
Great awesome buildings and the great buildings we have here today.

The literal context is standi outside of the temple, out side the p,ace of worship
The church is not a resting p,ace, the chug is the People of God

A popularity of non-denominational, which is suppose to refreshing. Where churches don’t compete for members and dollars. Hmm m

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: