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Posts Tagged 5 Practices

Mark 4:26-34 “The Mighty Mustard” RSUMC 20150614

MustardSeeds_PennyHe also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.[NRSV]

The Penny

There was a time when the penny was made of copper and would buy small items in the store. Now it is simply the fraction of tax that helps us feel better about spending $39.99 instead of wasting 40 bucks. When I ran for the office of President of the United States in 2000 to celebrate my 35th birthday, one of my platform items was to only mint pennies for numismatists and casual coin collectors, so that we could conserve our copper supply, allow accountants to sleep at night and kids at fast food establishments could make change. What good is the penny?

The mighty penny might seem insignificant much like a tiny mustard seed in the text. There was a time where pennies were collected as the first apportionment in our Methodist tradition to build a church for worship. Together, the pennies added up to reach a common goal just as profit margins on gasoline and at grocery stores are volume types of business. But the adage that pennies add up to dollars is a good starting point for reading the parable from  Jesus.

One year at Vacation Bible School we collected nickles to help the United Methodist Committee on Relief effort to respond to the victims of Katrina. Each day the children were invited to bring in nickles which were affixed to long strands of tape that wrapped around the sanctuary several time reflecting a couple hundred dollars of nickles. On the same week, the neighboring Baptist church held their VBS and agreed to pool our resources to the same effort. A great witness of cooperation, ecumenical effort and common sense. At the Baptist church they had asked the children to bring in one dollar bills each day that were taped together, end to end, and also wrapped around their sanctuary a few times. The differences was in the total. Nearly the same effort to give, the difference was their seed was larger.

Garden Progress

Jesus is using a gardening and farming illustration to look at the effectiveness of broadcasting compared to targeted conversations of witness. In summary of the text: We do not know how or where one little seed of faith, grace, compassion, feeding, healing, forgiving, love, trusting, blessing will inspire fruitful faith of someone else. But the mustard bush is more of a weed. The text has a double depth of meaning if we read it hearing how God can make weeds we might cut down and discard something useful and necessary.

A second, and very Methodist part of the text, is Jesus’s description of a process of spiritual growth. We start with someone sowing a seed, but that is followed by power in God’s creation that has nothing to do with us beginning to germinate what one person beings. First the stalk, then the head and then the full grain. The structure or core support system comes first, then the evidence of the maturity and THEN follows the fruit of the whole process.

The nano-second world we fly through is reluctant to hand on for the process. Imagine yourself watching a beautiful large screen television with 4K resolution and super surround sound in a custom contour recliner with refreshment access. Some team of producers, directors, investors, designers, musicians, technicians, actors, marketers, promoters and accountants have spend months and millions of dollars to create a movie experience to entertain you. You hold in your hand the powerful remote control with fresh batteries. How long does it take for you to decide if you want to watch the two hours of drama, action, comedy or information that awaits you? It takes just a about one second for the image to change per remote click, (new remote reducing to .5 seconds). Average view spends ten minutes reviewing 200 channels during an average 2-3 hours of time watching per day. (10 out of 120 minutes surfing), but 80% of the time they revert to ten favorite channels.

Whether we are are overwhelmed by choice, attention defects, devote that kind of time to our decisions, or like the control part facet of operating a remote, I invite you to step back from this common practice and think about the tiny bits of time and information that are involved in this daily exercise. (It is humorous to talk use the word exercise when talking about tv remotes.) Nonetheless, small visual clues based on past experiences, current stimulus signals, small movements of the thumb or finger indicate how we will be informed or entertained, How we spend 2-3 hours of each 24 hours. 10% of that time in devoted to searching and scanning.

Transfer this set of skills and behaviors. If we spend 2-3 hours studying scripture and books of faith and inspiration, how different would our 24 hours be? 2-3 hours of faith driving content, music, videos, ebooks, etc. Imagine how this would shape our own faith identity, our church and the world.

Think back about the process describe in Jesus’ parable teaching: First the seed, time to develop a structure, following the structure produces maturity, maturity produces fruitful witness, life and relationships.

Take a double look and hear the God is at work even in the relationships we might write off as unimportant can become the place others thrive. So take care to grow more than you cut out.

We have the ability to make small actions of shaping our faith and the future of the church. The task is to be intentional.

INTENTIONAL SPIRITUAL GROWTH

  • First the seed
  • Then the stalk
  • Then the head
  • Then the full fruit

I would make  a case that we allow our spiritual seeds to become “genetically modified” by those who use the church, rather than nurtured by the church. We have allowed the power of Christs presence for the shell of a body of tradition or a competitive entertainment . We need to get to the good seeds and scatter them far and near, and often We need to get back to sharing and planting and teaching the seeds of our faith.

  • God loves us, unconditionally
  • God has purpose for us, without doubt
  • God is with us, the presence of God’s spirit
  • God has made a way, Jesus and the cross
  • God is seen, through the intentional fruits of the church
  • God is real
  • God wants our heart, our trust, our love
  • God connects us

These are the seeds that we need to know, encourage and rely on in every day.

The seed is neither mighty nor the end of the story.. it is the continuous flow of starting points, that are repeated in every season.

The Work:

  1. Plant seeds of faith, small ones, every day, every where, every one.
  2. Develop the stalk, don’t tear someone down, build the structure and support
  3. Start with the heart work toward the head, rather than reverse.. roots grow with stalk, not the fruit first
  4. Fruit is for sharing and enjoying and replanting
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Mark 3:20-35 “Whose side are you leaning?” Intentional Spiritual Growth, RSUMC 20150607

Dung Fly

Dung Fly

..and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]

The Question of the text is: “Are you on God’s side?”

Listening to the Mob:

  1. ..and the crowd ..could not even eat.
  2. The crowd of certified doctors: “He has gone out of his mind.”
  3. scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, (Scribe Debate)
    1. “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”
    2. “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.
      1. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
      2. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said,
    3. Diagnosis: “He has an unclean spirit.”
    4. Family comes to protect and save Jesus
    5. Who is my family? Those who are on my side. Who’s side..

Summary: Mob is hungry, regional, compressed, out of bounds,

Note: Remember the temptation of Jesus starts with bread, the temple and at the mountain top boundary..

Name Calling: If you can’t think of what to say, start calling names.

He has Be-el-ze-bul. He is crazed because he is evil. Calling the presence of God crazy, evil, dangerous and out of control is backwards.

Be-El-ze-bul is interpreted as the “Lord of the Dung Flies”, a derogatory Lord of evil with twist of the tongue.

Jesus talks with the scribes in scribe-speak. Talk with a politician like a politician. Talk with a teacher like an educator; talk with a preacher like a preacher. Talk with a NASCAR fan like a NASCAR fan..

Jesus uses their knowledge, language, perspective to guide his corrective teaching

Who is in the family? Whose side do you favor… baby looks like mom or dad?

Statistical Leanings

In recent report from several current religious research groups, namely the Barna Group, report clear trends of people no longer identifying themselves as Christian.

Primarily: they may not have been actively practicing the Christian faith, but it had previously been the safer thing to say about seeing oneself as a “Good Person” to say, “I am a Christian.”

Jesus is making a distinction between name calling and relationship.

Relationship that is more than blood-kinship.

Question: Am I a Christian or am I a disciple of Jesus Christ?

The Relationship of choice, a relationship that intentional.

Are you Christian in name our in faith?

Are you Christian in idea or practice?

Are you Christian by birth or choice?

Are you a Good Person by association or action?

Are you faithful to an idea or to God?

Family: Jesus is asking the religious folks and the crowd:

Are you and your family in God’s family, or have you created a religious family of your own?

Intentional Spiritual Growth

One of the five practice of fruitful congregations is the intentional work of feeding our spirit and choosing to live out our faith through our extended faith-family with God’s people.

We choose to belong to a community and not an idea-club.

So, Who’s side are you leaning toward:

God’s family or The family dynasty you determine.

Imagine Mary, Joseph, James, others siblings of Jesus.

Bottom line: Leaning on the Everlasting arms of God or leaning on our arm chairs calling the shots of life from our perspective, our tradition, our place of power, knowledge and comfort.

What happens when you point out that someone’s actions are not Godly… do they thank you, tune you out or rebel?

Answer:

name calling doesn’t solve anything,

blaming might sound good but does not build relationships

not feeding your relationship leads to chaos…

Time for some intentional family dinner. Let’s eat!

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Ephesians 2.1-10 “Saved by Grace” RSUMC 201503015

HOPE_Deadend_RoadYou were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV]

  1. Before you found salvation

    1. You were walking dead
    2. Traveling on a dead end road
    3. You were like zombies, those who thought the only thing real in this world was themselves, their own efforts and failure, their own riches or poverty, their own reality and rules.
    4. DON’T Go Back To That Pace!
  2. We once were children of wrath

    1. You love to push the limits of both God and yourself.
    2. How many people hate God because one or two people in the church act inappropriately
    3. How many people run from God because we never explained why God/Jesus/Spirit are vitially important to our own lives (We just hope they see the testimony we live and say nothing.)
    4. Say that one again: (We just hope folks see our intended testimony of our actions and we teach, explain, tell folks nothing to confirm they got the correct message.) SAVI
  3. But we are no longer on the dead end road.

    1. We are on the alive for evermore road
    2. We are on the alive road with Jesus
    3. We are on the alive road together with one another, we are not alone
    4. We are on the alive road that is paved with grace, paved with the sacrifice of blame, sin, curse, and judgement that is due us, but has been taken on by Jesus instead.
    5. Don’t be rude, but don’t get lost in political correctness,
    6. Reach out to the lost and show them, tell them, plead with them the way of grace in Christ.
  4. SO WHAT?

    1. So in at a future time, when we leave this earth and this physical body is no more
    2. So when Christ returns to claim us and clean things up for the fresh start.
    3. So at a time in the future of God’s own choosing we can look back and see that God is not nearly as concerned about where we have wandered, as much as God is ultimately concerned about our being with God for today and the time from NOW on.
    4. God is kind enough to judge us, give the sentence to himself, and restore our relationship.
  5. BOTTOM LINE:

    1. For we are what he has made us,
    2. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works,
    3. To become the people God has hoped and dreamed we would be
      1. for the way of life intended from the beginning.
      2. for the relationship that was at the start, God opens to us,
      3. because God operates from a bedrock, foundation of love and kindness.
  1. COUNTER Point: There are those who will be so quick to respond.

  1. Why did my parent or child or sibling have to suffer and/or die.
  2. Why did God take them?
  3. From a loving point of view, which would you rather God be interested in your life:
    1. The absence of a family member for four to forty years or for them to be absent in eternity?
    2. GOD is not punishing up with death.
  1. If God is so good and kind, why doesn’t God stop evil in the world? hunger, disease, acts of terror, etc?
  2. The presence of evil in the world affirm that we still have choice to live for God.
  3. If evil were removed from the world without our our choice in the matter, then life and relationships would not matter.

iii. The reality of evil is evidence that God is still wanting us to choose to be in relationship with God.

  1. If I give up to the dead end road and allow evil to consume my heart and intentions and actions, then I don’t need God.

Go back to the key verse, the heart of this passage to the church and community at Ephesus:

***STAR (by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is God’s gift.)

Step you through… Tab A into Slot B:

  • 1. Our life and relationships are entrusted to us from God. God made each of us, and declares we are good.
  • 2. Before, Christ, you and I  were walking dead…like zombies
  • 3. We lived like we had no choice and no help.
  • 4. Because God operates from Love, God has not forgotten nor forsaken us.
  • 5. Evil is still present because God still wants us to have a choice in the matter of our lives.
  • 6. By Faith, by intentionally choose to live in God and grow in God, the gift is opened and realized.
  • 7. We are in this together. See a zombie, open the love of God to them in kindness.
  • 8. God is more concerned about who you now than who you were, God makes us all new.
  • **Because God operates from love for us, God takes the time, for settling our crime.
  • God love us, the whole world, God waits patiently for us to want to travel with God…
  • Q: What road are you traveling? dead end or life transforming?
  • Q: People are going on the dead end road and we have news that will save them.
  • There are people who are living as though they are not spiritual people in a physical body.
  • Do go back down the road that dead ends
  • Do go back, Don’t give up
  • Turn town God, even at a crawl. baby steps before we run.

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1 Peter 3:13-22 “For Our Sins” 20150222 RSUMC

 ForOurSin_Ashes

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]

Suffering: Physical Suffering for a Spiritual Purpose: The Lenten Season

Jesus’ prime example is suffering death on the cross, exchanging his life for our life.

Peter’s instructions DON’T LIST

  • Don’t give up, even when tempted, tested and tired
  • Don’t be afraid, even though there are things, powers and people to fear

DO BE DO BE DO…

  • Do have patience in suffering for Christ
  • Be ready to explain your hope
  • Do so with kindness
  • Keep your conscience clear
  • Don’t give in to what broken world dishes out

ENCOURAGEMENT:

  • Remember Jesus has already suffered for you.
  • Return the example, as a RESPONSE to LOVE not a duty.
  • SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL 1PT 3:18 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,

CITIZENSHIP: THEREFORE: Live like you are a baptized person..

  • live like your saved
  • live like God’s Spirit is in you…
  • live like Jesus and all power, authority, angels and powers are at your disposal through Christ.

We begin a holy Lenten season of practicing..

We are Baptized, (Claimed, Saved, Empowered and Loved Children of God)  Who we are,

We are encouraged by (Suffering in Faithfulness) what God has done through Jesus

The Lenten Test

  • If you were a extravagantly generous wealthy person: How would you treat other people
  • If you were a passionate lover of God: How would you express your devotion?
  • If you were a radical host and friend: How would you welcome a stranger?
  • If you were risk-taking servant: How far would you go to help someone who is hurting?
  • If you were purposeful and intentional about growing your Spiritual self, What exercises would you do?

If you let yourself off the hook and say none of these are for me, this is the season to pick just one and practice.

Practice trusting Jesus.

Practice telling about our hope in the life Jesus promises.

Practice singing about the Good News that God continues to love us

Practice giving like God’s heart is your heart.

Practice looking at strangers as new best friends

Practice looking at suffering in the world is a place for you to personally plug in and be involved making one-on-one change

Practice your faith OUT LOUD, not just in your mind and not just with your friends and family.

PRACTICE giving power and grace to those who don’t deserve another chance.

LENT

is forty days plus Sundays between this past Wednesday and Easter for us to begin practicing what it means to be Easter people, BECAUSE the truth is we are not there yet.

We begin this journey acknowledging this is a journey

  • it is not easy
  • it is not quick
  • it is not over
  • it is not fair
  • it is vitialy important and
  • it is worth the time and faith to try…

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1 Corinthians 8.1-13 “Food Glorious Food” RSUMC 20150201

bread
Bread of Life: Feed the Hunger, Fill Your Spirit First.

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. [NRSV]

Covered Dish… “A dish with the lid glued on to it with the words: “Covered Dish” as an act of hospitality.

Once I visited a Hindu commune as a seminary assignment. We invited in to observe, but they insisted we participate in order to observe. After 16 verses of singing the Hari Krishna mantra, we had to sing and dances in a circle singing it 16 more times. After which a large curtain was pulled back at one end of the room we were gathered, which revealed two dozen colorful life-sized figures of different idols. There in front of them was our dinner. After were we sprinkled with coconut milk and flower petals were listened to the guru speak for hours and then we had to eat.

What are the limits of southern hospitality? We ate, found our shoes and ran to the car. We stopped at the Varsity on the way home got our Chilli dogs, rings and Frost Orange.

Paul has found himself in a community of folks who are worshiping in a different way. He is confronted with being faithful in the context of those who are not like him.

Paul: Troubling statement, that is easy to leave on the buffet of bible verses: Eating Food nor Avoiding Food will neither save nor condemn up.

Remind your neighbor: “The Spirit is not fed with physical food.”

Girl Scout Cookies come when people typically give up on their new years diet resolutions

Faith Restaurant: I have always wanted to start a spiritual restaurant, coffee house. That not only creates jobs for those who would otherwise find is most difficult to get a job and build some work-equity to help transform their. With profit sharing for those who provide the work.

Using food from a community garden and fair-trade partners and local farmers giving strength to the local community.

Preparing food from purchasing, prepping, serving and cleaning through prayer and Christian fellowship.

Not simply closing on Sunday’s and assuming people know why we do so, but being bold in explaining why we might do so.

In addition to the waiters and waitresses there would be people who provided pastoral care from table to table. Praying, listening, encouraging and modeling Christian fellowship with a busy culture that would rather eat bad over priced food in an attempt to satisfy the hunger of their spirit.

Paul takes the stance that he will abstain from eating meat so his witness might include his eating and so there would be confusion if his food was offered to idols or not, he would eat other things. Some folks are vegetarians for diet choices, others do so for support of animals. Paul is not focusing on health of his body neither animals bodies, he is focusing on his spiritual self: letting his faith take priority to his taste buds. Wow! Now, he is NOT fasting, he is witnesses his Spiritual self in a physical body.

Tell you neighbor: “I am a Spiritual person in a physical body.” Repeat..

I don’t like this passage. You know I like my Krispy Kreme; I like meat. Let’s skip this verse and find one about Jesus and the children or Something that assures our salvation, The Christmas story… leave my food alone.

Food Glorious Food Oliver, the musical, song later used in Ice Age, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Charlottes Web, are variant of the words from the forgotten boys home who are given gruel everyday and they dream of having what rich gentlemen get: indigestion.

Food is a marvelous thing. It is the fuel for our physical bodies. There are so many foods that look good, taste good, smell good, have appealing textures, and satisfy the cravings of our chemistry.

Keep in mind, Paul is not fasting. He is not giving up caring for his physical body. He is not making a political statement. He is not controlling his weight. He is not starving himself.

There are times and places to stretch our spiritual grow and maturity that fasting is appropriate and even necessary, but today Paul is talking about eating.

Scout Can Drive

We are surrounded by people in our communities who do not have enough to eat to nourish their bodies. I remember doing a can drive for our scout troop one year. We placed empty bags with a note attached that stated: “We will be coming to your door tomorrow asking for donations of canned foods. Please fill this bag and leave it on your front door and BSA Troup 314 scouts will deliver your gift to the community pantry where it will help feed our neighbors. It was a very successful method of having people informed with a convenient way to collect a great about of food in a short period of time.

At one house the bag was filled with empty cans and a note. “Where is the community pantry? We are in need of food.

We had enough to share in our homes and guessed that some kids wanting us to take our trash. Our Scoutmaster took us back to this house and invited us in because he said we needed to see this. If it was just a kids joke, we’d invite the fellow to our troop and if they needed food we could see for ourselves. It was a nice home. The yard was plain but kept. We were invited in and the modest size house had almost no furniture. One box of toys and games for three children, and most of the blinds were pulled so the house was rather dark. We went into the kitchen and the scoutmaster asked to see the cupboard and refrigerator: I remember there were pickles, a bottle of formula-milk, olives and an opened quart of milk. The cabinets were empty except for salt, pepper, Texas Pete’s hot sauce and tooth picks.

We went to the truck and skipped the community food bank. We left every can they would eat. We didn’t follow the rules and procedures; we followed our hearts in love of Christ and compassion on those who were hungry.

Missing the Point

We can feed people and think we have this food thing seal up and covered, while all this good, it skirts around this verse: Paul is affirming that it is more important to satisfy our spirit than our body.

Tell your neighbor, “It is more important to satisfy our spirit than our body.”

Tell your neighbor, “I don’t always like that” “I don’t know if that is true.” “What’s for lunch?”

Bottom line: Feed the Spirit First, Feed the stomach second.

How often to do you spend on feeding your body?

Time Working to buy or grow our food

Time and energy gathering and preparing our food

Time and energy eating food

Time and cost of cleaning up from eating?

Money and energy from eating too much or things that don’t build up our bodies?

How much is all that time….

How much time do we devote to being with God and God’s people, on an average day?

Time praying? Studying the bible? Singing, worshiping?

Fellow-shipping, Serving and encouraging others in the faith?

Who is starving their Spirit?

Let’s make a commitment to God and one another to encourage one another.

Let’s use technology to remind us to prayer, serve and love

Let’s make an intentional effort to feed one another as well as ourselves.

Let’s eat, I don’t know about you, I’m hungry.

Feed my spirit, Fill my heart. Satisfy my cravings. Make me whole. Amen.

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Mark 1:14-20 “License to Fish” RSUMC 20150125

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]

Licensed to Catch

To be authorized to fish on state waters and waters that lead to state waters you must have a license to fish. It is a piece of paper with slopping dot matrix ink that is barely legible that cost just a few dollars for a whole year of fun and recreation, but try to sneak out without one and you will wish you had the permit. That license helps keep lakes and rivers stocked, rangers on watch and some efforts to protect waters for future fishing. It seems to me that it sounds much more impressive to call one’s permit a license to fish, rather than a stocking fee or a wildlife protection fee or a ranger administrative fee. Now I complain every time they increase the rate, but its still one of the best values our state provides.

With a license to fish it sounds like your are a professional catcher of fish, a regular James Bond in the wilderness. Licensed, licensed to fish. And yet that little piece of paper is your letter of authorization to attempt to catch a fish.

Catching Fish

Unless you use your bare hands or a catchers mitt, I suggest that the whole endeavor is misnamed. Catching fish is the rarity in my experience. Practicing is the art of hoping and trying to catch. I have cast my line MANY more times than I have ever caught a fish.

And when I have successfully retrieved a fish from his watery home, I generally use every method I have to capture the little creature. And in my experience, my catch is a small creature; one I probably should use my bare hands to ‘catch’ rather than a load of specialized gear, bait and practice.

Successful Fishing

To be successful at fishing might have nothing to do with catching anything, except a nap in the great outdoors.

To be successful at fishing might be in helping someone catch what you have little or no success achieving yourself.

To be successful at fishing I know that the cost to procure a fish is not measured by the total investment, rather in the most recent success story. (Boat, poles, line, lures, trailers, flotation devices, motors, umbrella, wetsuit, waders, various must-have pieces of tackle, just to get started.) The cost of a ‘catch’ is the most recent worm and and the gas to transport you to the best spot.

A Failure at Fishing

You might think you have failed a fishing if you came home with no fish, but learning WHY you came home empty handed might be the successful lesson.

Coming home with a boat load of fish actually means more work of cleaning and cooking your catch which might be the last thing you want to do after three hours of driving, unloading and loading a boat, working on a broken boat, waking a mile back to go to the bathroom because your little helper doesn’t want to go in the woods, enduring some mud and rain, going through the first aid kit from miscellaneous hook injuries and only finding the little ones that need to be returned to grow bigger.

Luxury of Catch and Release

It is such a mixed message to take a child fishing when it’s catch-and-release season. First all the hype about “catching” fish and bringing it home to eat for dinner is the stuff that beginning fisher-folk legends  are founded. You finally catch one, beginner’s luck you find the biggest one of the whole fishing parting and you have to throw it back.  I wanted to eat it and mount it for all posterity, not through it back!

But there is actually a great level of maturity, delayed-gratification, or at least perspective when you can use all at your disposal to hook and retrieve your catch and not have to keep it

  • because that is not the only meal your family might have is at the end of your line.
  • because you don’t need to show anyone your catch,
  • because you have learned to enjoy to sport of fishing
  • because you want to leave fish for those who need the meal they provide
  • because you don’t want to clean them
  • because you found your enjoyment in the journey rather than the trophy

“Catching” is not the high-water-point of fishing!

Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.

  • You need no license to share the story
  • You need no experience, success nor failure, to share the fun
  • You don’t have to know what your doing and you may be the most practiced professional

Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.

Jesus goes a long way to share an INVITATION to share the ADVENTURE of FISHING

Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person

Jesus invites us to go on an adventure bigger than what we could catch if we tried, practiced,

Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES

Jesus calls us to use the skill and talents we know and have and INVITES us to share them with the work of the Kingdom.

Jesus continues to call disciples

Look to the persons on either side:

  • Remind them “You are a disciples”
  • Remind them “You are a fisher, not a catcher”
  • Remind them “You don’t have to know what you are doing, just follow Jesus”
  • Remind them “Lead with what you know”
  • Remind them of the tough part: “Sometimes following Jesus is leaving other things behind”

Jesus Calls Disciples who make new Disciples, who fish for more disciples…

The ADVENTURE is ours,

we never graduate,

we never retire,

we may have weary, uncertain times, but

there is always more fishing to be done. So keep it up

Let’s go fishing

  • It’s too cold
  • It’s too wet
  • I don’t have a license
  • I don’t know where to go
  • I don’t have the right equipment
  • I don’t know how
  • I’m tired of fishing
  • I don’t like fish
  • I want someone to fish for me, I like the restaurant/grocery story method.

So why are we here as church, if we are not about the one thing Jesus asked disciples…

I’m up for the ADVENTURE!

I have a story to SHARE!

  • I don’t know how to fish, but I know who does!
  • I don’t have license, but I have forgiveness and love!
  • I might have skills and equipment, God wants what we bring! God fulfills what we leave behind.
  • I might get tired, God plans for rest.
  • I might not like the people God sends me to, but I know God loves us all
  • If I don’t follow, what will I miss and who will miss God….

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Advent3 Luke 3:7-18 “Do We Bring Fire?” RSUMC 20141213

FireGiftJohn said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. [NRSV]

What should I bring?

If we knew Jesus were coming to our house for Christmas this year. Everyone would be gathering around a beautifully decorated treat what we wrap under the tree for Jesus?

<story of Sam Bangura spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with our family> The welcomed stranger brings Christmas Joy for lifetime of “Christmas Gift”

In this third week of Advent, our preparing has lead us to be 1) Alert and On Guard, 2) Making room and paving a Way, and today 3) we talk about Gifts and Presents:

Asking: What does Jesus want for Christmas this year? Know the answer will be “what Jesus wants every day.”

John the Witness, John the Baptizer, John the Spiritual Road Pave-er tells us:

Bear fruits of repentance:

  • If we have asked for forgiveness, live as though we have been forgiven.
  • If we have forgiving some one treat that person or relationship with grace like we have forgiven.
  • If we have not forgive then we have some work to do.
  • As long as you have two coats and there is someone who has no coat, we have work to do.
  •  As long as we have food enough to eat and there is someone hungry, we are not done.

How to Bear Fruit when we have things working against us?

It’s one thing when the ground is fertile and serving is easy. It’s hard NOT to bear fruit on a mission trip. People will complain many times about the cost of going on mission trips when there is so much to be done right here at home. But let me ask this: How many mission trips have you heard about that were fruitless? Oh there will be roadblocks, illnesses, and set backs, but have you ever heard of a mission team coming home saying. We did nothing good, we got nothing out of it. It was a total waste of time, money and energy. I’ve never heard it… We invest in having a fruitful, productive, meaningful and powerful experience from the outside expectation.

(We don’t always do this when we are near home. So close to home, we are more likely to say: We will get to it soon and when we get around to it.) Advent is a Round-to-it time of year.

An uncommon audience

The tax collector and soldier are two who have come to hear John’s teachings and ‘good news’ and as how do I do my job that seems be so hated or feared… how to I do my job and serve God?

These two folks the Tax Collector and the Soldier were feared and hated, most because they were the first line of OFFENSE from the government. Interesting advise from the prophet helps us all:

Do you job: Collect what is due. BUT don’t take advantage of folks. (Don’t run a title pawn that keeps folks in poverty.)

You work for the government. Do your job, don’t use your position to take advantage of folks.

It’s ok to make a profit don’t extort, don’t take advantage of folks.

It’s fine to make money: John Wesley’s advise on money: Make All you Can, to Give all you can, to Do all the Good you can. But use money as tool and instrument of Goodness, blessing and grace rather than power, abuse or oppression.

Back to the Gifts: What gifts do we bring to Jesus for HIS birthday?

Side Note:  John the Baptizer were speaking with authority and connecting with people helping the to find their way closer to God and so they thought he might be the Messiah.

“Nope, I’m bringing Water, Jesus is bringing Fire.”

“You think I’m fired up for God, God is about to send his very own Firestorm. Look out, be on guard, get ready and keep asking for a status report.

Jesus wants, what I need.

What I need vs What I want.

I want a gift card from Krispy Kreme, what I need is accountable set of scales.

I want to be blessed and loved, what I need to is to be a blessing and love unconditionally.

I want protection and care, what I need to offer support, counsel and keep a watchful eye on someone.

I want freedom and grace, what I need is to let go of leverage, grudges, guilt and shame and model grace.

The gift I give is the gift I receive.

Jesus wants folks fed, clothed, friend-ed and connected in grace.. the John the Baptist Question:

AM I GIVING THAT GIFT as daily witness?

Do I still need to go shopping?

Have I been looking for the wrong deal?

As long as Im asking for the status report, I’m on the right track… Ask you neighbor: Have you gotten Jesus’s gift yet?

What have you got him today?

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1 Cor 1:18-24 “Share Christ with Them” RSUMC 20140914

ShareJesus.jpg For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [NRSV]

One of the foundational keys of being United Methodist is faith in God’s Word, spoken and revealed through ordinary people. The people, lessons, foundations witness those who are willing to listen and share God’s Word.

We listen to scripture as God’s word through lenses and filters.

  • Scripture is heard and experienced through the context of all those who have read, studied and listened in years past. We call this the voice of tradition or theology.
  • Scripture is heard and reflected through the grey matter of reason. God has created each of us with a mind, powers of rational and logical thought. We call this voice of reason.
  • Scripture is heard and conveyed through the presence of the God’s Spirit in our own spirit understanding as a spiritual being. We call this voice of experience.

The heart of Methodist living in the scriptures includes all three of these filters.

Scripture_is_to_glasses_lenses_are_tradition_reason_experience

Scripture is to glasses and lenses are tradition reason and experience. Each are important but only together is the whole story revealed.

  • For those who state that they read scripture literally, they are making assumptions that are based on using only a filter of tradition OR experience.
  • For those who state that scripture is read only in contrast to science and mental reflection, they are only using one filter of reason.
  • For those who state the interpretation is weighted by the church’s historical voice or even the church’s majority voice, they use only one filter of tradition.
  • For those who state they reading as non-denominational, non-traditional, rather personally inspired alone, they ONLY draw on the voice of experience.

Each of these independent ways are good, but incomplete without all of them together. This complete view of scripture is at the heart of being Methodist. Keep this in heart, mind and spirit as we look, listen and share this mornings reading:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who:

  • remember the cross only as a history lesson
  • try to explain away the extreme of sacrifice or
  • or are turned off by the gruesomeness of crucifixion

Remember it is through all these that the cross becomes a sign of power, love and victory.

Paul is talking to the folks at the churches in Corinth, but as part of the church now, Paul continues the power of tradition for us.

As a practical matter: Sharing our faith is something that we are called, commanded and empowered to do.

But not every attempt to do so is fruitful.

  • We could talk about Jesus everywhere we go and most folks will just call us that crazy person that talks about Jesus all the time.
  • We could think about Jesus and work out a great thoughts for our own understanding and no one would ever hear a thing, for all the work we have done.
  • And We could wait for the moment that it felt right and connect only in an emotional way that is empty of spiritual power.

Consider doing all three, together.

For to only follow one method is foolish..

Take for example our financial stewardship and giving..

  • If you talk to some people about tithing as a duty and a faithfulness of following scripture, some will listen and following the challenge.
  • For others, you show them a few pictures of children that are hurting and lack and show how a few cents each day will transform their suffering.
  • Some are moved by guilt, shame or fear to give because you can’t out give God.
  • Still others need to see the balance sheets and of the organization, the estimates of the market place and find ways of saving through giving.

But the whole power of stewardship is some of each of these, but it is rooted in a radical and extravagant love that is willing to do whatever it takes to build a loving relationship with us.. and once we find that kind of relationship, stewardship is our automatic response and expression of love.

John Hayes, my OT professor loved his multiple choice questions. Most ever test had 100-150 multiple choice questions and all of the had a 5th choice: E) all of the above or none of the above. What if:

  • Signs are important.
  • debate is important
  • wisdom is important
  • discernment is important
  • politics are important
  • geography and culture differences are important
  • Understanding and sharing the cross of Jesus Christ call for E) All of the above.

The Cross of Christ is God’s eternal gift.

  • some folks are not ready to see its power
  • some have forgotten the power it held
  • some have decided it’s not theirs to carry.

Paul is saying, most simply: it is foolish to live with vanilla when Hershey’s dark chocolate fudge brownie and pistachio-mango-strawberry-swirl give you a better  balance of what ice cream can be. Knowing, Living and Sharing the Christ of the Cross takes our whole life.. not just Sunday..

Homework: It sounds foolish, but eat three radically different flavors of ice cream (unless you’re diet or health are endangered, then try three different flavors of what is in your eating plan) Three scoops or three spoonfuls. Or three different fruits, two of which you don’t usually eat. As you taste three different bites ask: What if fruits only tasked like raspberries and never like water melon? What if I only at Brussels sprouts and never tried fried green tomatoes?

What if I were foolish enough to try all three? What if we are foolish enough to think there is on our time, our understanding and our perspective?

 

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John 12:1-8 “Extravagance: how to give not what to give” JUMC 10/17/2010

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12.1-8 NRSV)

Among the Hebrews, the act of anointing with the Holy anointing oil was significant in consecration to a holy or sacred use: hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26). Later, Kings and Prophets were given the right to partake in this sacrament as well.

Medicinal: Olive oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Psalms 109:18; Isaiah 1:6).

Preparation: “Baseball Glove: Neatsfoot oil” : The expression, “anoint the shield” (Isaiah 21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.

Hospitality: It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2; Psalms 104:15, etc.). The Hellenes had similar customs. This custom is continued among the Arabs to the present day.

Authority: Priests and kings: The High Priest and the king are each sometimes called “the anointed” (Leviticus 4:3-5, 4:16; 6:20; Psalm 132:10). Prophets were also anointed with the Holy anointing oil.(1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:15). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him; in fact, in Israel a crown was not required (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4, etc.). Thus David was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel: hen Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.—1 Samuel 16:13.

Christian Gospels
The Messiah: distinct from the Jewish view, Christians[who?] believe the “anointed” one referred to in various biblical verses such as Psalm 2:2 and Daniel 9:25-26 is the promised Messiah. According to the Jewish Bible, whenever someone was anointed with the specific Holy anointing oil formula and ceremony described in Exodus 30:22-25, the Spirit of God came upon this person, to qualify him or her for a God-given task. Believing that Jesus was never anointed in this way,[citation needed] some Christians take a spiritual reading of anointed, and believe that Jesus was “anointed” with the Holy Spirit directly According to the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is this Anointed One, the Messiah (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2-3; 18:5, 18:28). The Gospels also state that he was physically “anointed” by an anonymous woman who is interpreted by some as Mary Magdalene; however, this anointing was not in the fashion described in Exodus, but rather an anointing done out of affection, which Jesus stated was to prepare him for his burial.

Hospitality: Anointing was also an act of hospitality, as Jesus was anointed in the house of the Pharisee (Luke 7:38-46).
Medicinal: The New Testament records that oil was applied to the sick, and also to wounds Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
Burial: The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mark 14:8; Luke 23:56).

Mary, anoints Jesus.. oil and frankincense, for king. Olive oil for healing and protection would have been fine.
But Nard…

* classification of Dipsacales (in Dipsacales (plant order): Valerianaceae) …is a perennial herb prized for its spicy, fragrant flowers; it is native in Europe and Western Asia. Its dried rhizome yields valerian, a natural sedative. Nardostachys grandiflora (spikenard) is a perennial herb of the Himalayas that produces an essential oil in its woody rhizomes.

It is from steam distillation of the woody root that the oil is collected.
Nard is most likely a yellows honey like viscosity
It was used to calm or tranquilizing effect
In its pure state it would burn the skin and linger for some time..

I learned through a difficult experience… placing a q-tip in nard and wiping it across the back of the bulletins sent two members to the emergency room when they touched the oil to their eyes.

It smells like a greenhouse filled with gardenias… It has a spicy hint like cardamom. It feels sticky like honey. It’s sent is so strong that it burns the eyes.

Why does Mary anoint Jesus? As an act of worship..
Anointing is generally a small amount of oil, usually olive or olive with frankincense, as a sign.

Poor Costly Nard ( Rev. D.M. Brantley )
Nard applied to his feet, dirty feet, Smelly, dusty feet.

Why waste the costly nard to clean dirty feet?


Why waste the expensive salve


On the crusty and corn infested feet


Of a wandering Galilean rabbi?


Of a better use, Judas imposes,


For the sake of the poor


That precious ointment stuff could be traded


To a proud lady, (Who has no need for body lotions),


So soft, clean and unexposed to the sun and wind


And Palestinian sands.


Pricely nard Is her fragrance of affluence and stature?


Why waste it on common, dirty feet?


Feet that know not the smell of feel


Of softness and gentle caress.


Ask not “Why?” says he;


It is a beautiful thing


That has been done for me,


An act that always will be told


As the anointing for my burial.


Go, Judas, he is ready to be sold.


Waste not the nard,


Waste not the man,


Thirty pieces of silver await


To help you feed the poor.


Poor Jesus’ feet.


Poor costly nard.


Poor traitor, Judas.


Poor poor.

Mary is worshiping Jesus in a way that was RADICAL hospitality.
Mary is pouring out her whole heart in way that showed her PASSIONATE worship
Mary is placing herself at Jesus’ feet with the INTENTIONAL place of spiritual connection
Mary is cross the traditions and expectation of others as a RISK TAKING service to Jesus as the Christ
Mary is acting EXTRAVAGANTLY with her generosity in giving her gift to Christ.

The fruit of Mary’s actions point to the effect Jesus had on her life.

Think of everyone else in the house:
Lazarus, raised from the dead… he had something to shout about, he is silent
Martha, who had been busy cleaning, decoration, preparing and planning… is not near Jesus
11 of the Disciples are silent… they had seen miracles, healing and teachings… they sit there..
Judas, speaks up: She is wasteful.. that $300 could have fed the 5000, she has no business sense.
Any others there: silent, absent, unknown..

Preparing for Christ is not waiting in fear or silence..
Preparing for Christ is GRASPING the moment and living it FULLY for Christ!

WHERE DID MARY GET THE AUTHORITY TO ANOINT JESUS?
From the communion of her spirit and the Holy Spirit.. It was the only thing she could do.

Q: What in your spirit, in your heart, is compelled to do or say or be for Jesus Christ today?

Philippians 3: 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

What is the ONE thing that you can do, today,.. toward the goal of Jesus Christ?
What are you doing with what you have, this very day, for Christ…
If Jesus asked you for ten, and you looking in your wallet and found only a twenty… ask for change?
If Jesus asked you give you coat to someone who was cold, would you write him a check?
If Jesus was about to show us and start taking names.. where would you hide?
If Jesus showed you someone who was about to
..take Methamphetamine for the first time… would you knock down the door?
..take their own life, would you stand outside and wait?
..roll over and go back to bed on Easter Sunday morning, would you let them sleep through it?
..hungry and drive past?

Mary and her jar of Nard are a wake-up call for all who sit back following the rules, expectations and routine:
Jesus is with us, here and now.. LIVE LIKE IT! Or don’t complain about those who praise him.

Sit there and do nothing.
Christ will be with us always, Even to the end.
Count the cost.
Wait your turn.
Be polite.
Follow the rules.
Mind your business.
Keep quiet.

I APPEAL TO YOU, Do something EXTRAVAGANT for Christ, Today or step out of the way for those who will.

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JUMC 5 Practices: Risk-Taking Mission & Service 101010

Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,* for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ 28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind,* he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ Matthew 14

The Parable of the Talents
14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents,* to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25

It is God who has taken the first risk..
Risk leaving use with care for the garden, care for the commandments, rituals and offerings. An even greater risk was taken in coming in the form of Jesus, sharing the ministry as disciples and sacrificing his life for our own. AND further risk, entrusting the work of the Kingdom to us today.

What is a risk.
For some getting out of bed and walking across the room is a risk
For others its changing careers, homes or income brackets.
For others its choosing a longer bungee cord to get closer to the ground.

Learning to swim, I was afraid of the deep water. Beginners, Intermediate, and Experienced Swimmers. Bobbing and floating, strokes and flips. and diving, head first into the deep.

For most of us..
A risk is any action we take that stretches us beyond our control of comfort.
Who would choose to do that?

Know about Jesus, hear others speak of Jesus and then our stepping out into the deep waters of the storm and walking with Jesus.

Why take a risk. Play it safe. Hold, Stay, Split, hedge our bets.
Service that we can manage is about what we can do.
Service that we cannot image doing is about what God can do.

Most churches dream of sending folks on mission teams around the world and starting emergency assistance ministries. JUMC has raised the bar for all the churches.
This is not in the spirit of competition, rather in the spirit of faithst

It is a risk to say that we will provide a coat for every child that needs a coat.
It is a risk to send 50 people to Honduras, Uganda and the ends of the earth.
It is a risk to say that we will help 600 with food, bills, and clothes in Jesus name.
It is a risk to run for office and lead the community government
It is a risk to start a new business
It is a risk to bring a foster child into your home.
It is a risk to invite ALL our neighbors to join our church
It is a risk to start ministries that reach hundreds at a time instead of tens.

Build a whole neighborhood of habitat houses?
Start of bakery, restaurant, Movie Theater, bookstore, a college, and provide more places for people to work and have income for their families.

Risk Taking Service does not happen within our limits, it is a time to step into God’s sea of life.

Challenges:
1) The passage is remember not just for Peter’s sake, but for our example.
2) Those who have much, much more is expected. Money, time, talent, skill, experience, knowledge, heat….
3) Walking on water is possible when we look to Jesus for strength for every step.

Reward: Churches that risk service and mission show the world what God can do and is doing. If there is one of the five practices that Jackson UMC comes closest to modeling, it would be this one, but that only raise the bar higher.. Don’t look at the threatening storm as long as Christ is inviting us to walk with him.

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