Posts Tagged Christian

Faith Sharing: The conversation shared

Wesley’s fear

I do not fear that the people called Methodist shall ever cease to exist in Europe and America. I only fear that they shall exist as a dead sect knowing the for, of religion, but not the power three of, and that undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast to the doctrine, disciplines and spirit with which they first set out.” (John Wesley 1786, age 83)

Wesley did not have a simple statement about accepting Christ, he being a preachers kid, professor, theologian and preacher offer a process of profession.

Salvation:

1. God has saved us in Christ

2. The point at which I know/feel/experience the effect of saving Grace (our professing/accepting Christ)

3. The point at which I become aware that the Holy Spirit is working to shape my life toward the life/hope Jesus has saved

4. Glimpses, moments and finally when I am made whole through Chris, by the Holy Spirit I to the person God graces us with to live.

Accepting what God has done for humanity

Accepting what God has done for me

Accepting God help in becoming the person a God

Living fully as the person God hope, dreams, calls me to be.

Beginning: Understanding our desperate need for Jesus and reaching the lost.

Christian faith is uniquely personal

If you ceased believing in Jesus at midnight how would tomorrow be different?

Most important thing to know about witnessing is: what is the Holy Spirit doing in your life right now.

What adjustments do you make daily between what the Holy Spirit. Reds/expects and what you do each day

Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel

Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”

Three people in the Evangelism committee proposed they way the church should plan to “do evangelism” this year.

1: One wanted the Church to focus on physically embodying the love of Jesus by serving people around them and acting on issues of social justice.

2. The second said, “Anybody could be kind or good to others. Only the Spirit could do signs and wonders.” We must study, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit.

Liam also believed in the Holy Spirit. Who didn’t? And of course we 3. We must communicate Jesus clearly to everybody because serving and praying might not be clear to everyone in the community or even the church.

The obvious answer is to combine all three, word, deed, & sign

Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit

Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit

Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation

Start prayer,

pray with others,

pray for other,

read the prayers of others

Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing

Invitational statements….

Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you

Graceful faith Sharing

No law rules or formulas

Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs

Example 1)

Start with someone who wants to know how to accept Jesus.

What would to tell someone who asked you, “What do I do to become a Christian?”

1. They bring it up directly,

2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.

3. They want your personal instructions

First let us pray: “I thank you God for loving ana saving us. I praise you for the opportunity to share the gospel with <name> today. Guide my words and my heart by your love and grace.”

A. I believe God so loved the world that he gave his only child to save all people who believe in God, father son Holy Spirit. Do you. Believe this too?

B. I tell the church, my family and friends, that I believe Jesus’ saving work, has saved me, personally. Do you believe this for you.

C. I invited God’s Spirit, scriptures, and church to guide my life until Christ returns to take us to heaven. Do you believe this for your life?

D. We are both believers on the journey together. I want to thank God for Sharing your faith. Do you want to pray to say thank you too?

Follow up with introducing them to another believer and Co tire the conversation. Pray for those God entrusts to you.

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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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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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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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Matthew 5:38-48 “Perfection” JUMC 20140223

pefection_sign

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [NRSV]

John Wesley explained how God works in our lives in what he called the ‘order of salvation.’ This order begins with God at work prior to our awareness.

For example Christ was born, lived, died and rose long before we had anything to do with this ultimate gift of God’s grace. Our belief or unbelief does not change its power or purpose.

Preventing Grace

Long before we come to a point of accepting Jesus Christ with our minds and understanding, we are surrounded by the community of faith in the church, specific individuals of faith, differing actions and witness of service worship and witness. All these together shape our understanding and our experience of belief and ‘accepting’ Christ our selves.

This period of preliminary work of God through our experience is called ‘prevenient grace’ or preventative grace. God working good through the holy spirit before we know what is going on around us.  This is the most compelling reason to come to church. This is the most compelling reason to be here for the witness and strengthening of others in the faith. Your being present, your singing, your prayers, your Christian fellowship, your studying, your serving and sharing is how we teach on multiple levels our faith and belief.

This is not just for the children. It is for us all, at all ages and stages of our lives. I would suggest that members like our Reba’s, Elizabeth’s, Roberts, Cottons and others of our older members are as hungry for the presence of the whole church as our children run eagerly up for children’s time.  We need the preventative work of God’s good working in all we do.

When we Get it? Justifying Grace

The second stage of salvation is when we ‘get it.’ When we have that first moment of the stories of faith connecting with our experience and we “see the light”, “we know Christ died and lives for us.” We might say the words for years, but when we recognize that Christ didn’t just live, die and return for everyone, but for us in particular.. then Wesley calls that moment: Justifying Grace.

There are times when our lives are so busy, weary, confusing and stressed that we know the right answers be we loose the connection that God is working in us.  For those who find themselves digitally connected on a daily basis, isn’t at the worst moments that the internet connection goes off line. You are right in the middle of something important, and zap. You are disconnected.  The information is out there but you are not connected.

The same thing happens in our way of salvation. We know that justifying work that God has done for us, but we loose the connection. So getting reconnected and trying to stay connected Wesley calls SANCTIFYING Grace.

Practicing Connection Sanctifying Grace

We don’t use the word SANCTIFY very often. But we do things that help keep or store the connection of faith.

The room we have gathering in to worship is the SANCTUARY. Even though it is large and may have different activities, it is set apart as a holy space. We will not be playing basketball today. We will not be eating dinner in this room. We have dedicated this as a safe and dependable place to find God with us.

 

We sing praises and hymns/songs. We praise and ask through our prayers. We are joyful and tearful in this place. We celebrate baptisms and communion. We celebrate marriage and funerals in this place. We gather as sinners and call ourselves saints in this room. Because this is the SANCTUARY; this is the place we connect with the Holy.

Sanctification: Connecting and Reconnecting with God

But this is not the only place or time to connect with God. Wherever two or more are gathered in God’s name, God is there. Where we clothe the cold, feed the hungry, reach out to the lost, remember the forgotten, and find ourselves persecuted for doing Godly good.. These actions are SANCTIFYING actions.

 

God’s is working through our study, praying, fasting, serving and witnessing to keep us connected to God. When we are working in these ways we experience SANCTIFYING grace.

But we are not always doing these things. We have other responsibilities. We have rest and recreation. We have times that we are sick and broken. Where is God in these times?

For many we spend a great deal of our lives in the PREVIENT grace mode.  When we want to take vacation from responsibility; God is willing to carry us. That is the promise of God’s love.  

I remember learning about Greater-Than and Less-than in the second grade. I didn’t get it. I was use to having a big smiley face on all my work but this paper had an “F”. My first failing grade. The teacher called me to her desk and asked me why I was crying. I handed her the paper. I had missed ever single problem. None of them were correct. Everyone was wrong. My “F” was a big fat zero.

The teacher had the same ah-ha moment I did. We both realized that I understood the concept of > and <. I just had the symbols backwards. We both said, “Why didn’t I realize that at the time?” She let me retake the test.  I got them all correct. Perfection!

 

There are times that we get things right. We do good and we find that warm spirit in our hearts. We feel connected and loved. We see and understand. These moments, John Wesley called, Perfecting Grace. We don’t stay in these moments. For a variety of reasons, but these are the cherished examples of what it is like we are close to God and God is close to us.

For most folks, these times are too far in between. The reality is that most folks operate on a daily basis between PREVIENT Grace and JUSTIFYING Grace. This is some where between letting God work for us and our mental affirmation of God at work. And we wonder where is God?

Finding the perfect relationship takes practice. Faith is not a one-time contract. Perfection is a relationship of wholeness. We have to practice putting the pieces together until the stay together for longer than a few minutes.
perfection or wholeness

The Christmas puzzle: We put out a holiday puzzle that family members stop now and then to find the edges, work on recognizable patterns. Little by little the progress is seen over time. And then, with about fifty of the five hundred piece left there is a collective dash to complete the prize. And it is done. There is generally a comment that we should get some ‘modge podge’ glue the work together. And it sits entact for a little while for everyone to admire, but in a matter of seconds the hours of work is undone and the pieces are divided and back in the box for another season.

 

The trick is finding how to become so familiar with the many pieces and the practice of putting them together that the complete work does not take as long. And so it is with the spiritual puzzle of our life in Christ.  Perfection comes, but it is fleeting. Unless we stick to the practice of making wholeness our goal, our juggling of pieces of life are a diversion instead of a salvation.

Perfection: Not getting it right, but getting is together with God for long haul, eternity.

Our journey is fluid. We move back and forth with God. But the more we move beyond the idea of God into the relationship with God AND God’s people, the closer we walk with God most completely.

Have you seen the YouTube clip of the little boy sitting at a bus stop waiting to meet his teacher and class on a field trip. The weather is cold and certain a day for a heavy coat. This boy has not coat. The number of folks who sit with and interact with the boy and do not offer their coat is unbelievable. But those who do become connected beyond the mental affirmation of loving your neighbor and become actual neighbors to the boy.

The reason we gather for worship with regularity, come to Sunday school, eat a fellowship dinner, pray with our ceasing, study each day, feed and clothe those who have made poor choices or have had poor choice made for them… is because to share our lives each day is to share God each day.

The question implied in the text today is: If you have not showed God’s love today to someone who does not expect nor deserve it, then we ought not expect God to be found in our own lives. We have been loved. We know the way of salvation. We are on the journey.. are we closer, at a stand-still or lost ourselves?

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Matthew 5:1-12 “Are You Blessed?” JUMC 20140202

sermononmountWhen Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]

Blessed.

Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:

  • Citizenship in Heaven
  • Comforted here and now.
  • Inheritors of the earth
  • Filled with Satisfaction
  • Swimming in Mercy
  • Able to see God’s presence
  • Known to be God’s child
  • Have a place in heaven
  • Heavenly Reward Waiting

Character Traits of the faithful

  • Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
  • Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
  • Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.

Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.

Look Around you today

Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time.  This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.

We come to the table because we have turned the other way.

Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

  • Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
  • Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
  • Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
  • Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
  • Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
  • Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
  • Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
  • Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
  • Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.

Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.

An Opposing View

  • Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
  • Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
  • Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
  • Cursed are those who know better than God
  • Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
  • Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
  • Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
  • Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God

Bottom Line:

The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.

If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.

Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:

  • Am I always right?
  • Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
  • Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
  • Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
  • Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
  • Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
  • What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?

What’s at Stake?  EVERYTHING

  • Being Blessed or Curse.
  • Being included or outside.
  • Saved or Damned.
  • Loved or hated
  • Remembered or forgotten
  • God’s or my Own.

What is God doing about it?

  • Has given us Christ to follow
  • Has given us Christ for our sin
  • Has given us Christ for living
  • Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
  • Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
  • Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
  • Has given us Music to tell and share
  • Has given us ministry to share and reach
  • Has given us resources to build and invest

The question, Our Question:

“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”

Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.

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Luke 4.16-21 First Things First JUMC 20131201


16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
NRSV

First Words
Typically a child’s first words are a rough version of Daa Daa or Maa Mas, some
Jesus’s first words as teacher, preacher define our task as Christians and the role of the church

5 Point Sermon
Bring Good News to the Poor, Freedom to the captive, Seeing to the blind, Oppressed accepted, AND tell the world this is what God is all about
Jesus defines what we are to do as disciples, as Christians, and as a church
Confirmands: Listen up.

Hometown Hearers
Jesus starts with the folks who had the greatest opportunity to know Jesus, those who have known him the longest
Not always does longevity mean understanding. The longest member or the longest marriage does not always mean the greatest witness or the greatest love IE. Sadi and Shorty Brown..

Evaluation
Are we getting closer to the destination?
Flight… much like image that Bishop Schnase describes in chapter 2, of Remember the Future,
Given the choice to walk home from Colorado all alone is not my best choice.
I prefer the air plane. I got upgraded, so I had more room and a better snack for my flight… But on this flight home I had two crying babies, one in front and one behind me. The flight was delayed 40 minutes. They ran out of the full breakfast and I had cold cereal instead. I sat next to a talker who didnt mind waking me up to tell me about their family problems. But given all the craziness it was much better than walking 1200 miles on my own.

Being the church is not the easy route. Being a follower of Jesus is seldom accepted by the majority. In fact it is a good test of our progress: If things are going smoothly and everyone is happy and comfortable, most likely we have made things about us rather than those who are poor, captive, blind, oppressed and search to find what God offers instead of what we offer.

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Luke 10:38-42 Distracted Driving JUMC 20130721

distracted-drivingNow as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]

The statistics for driving while distracted are incredibly alarming. The issues of distracted driving are three fold, (St Farm site)

1. Visual – removes a driver’s eyes off the road

2. Manual – removes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel

3. Cognitive – removes a driver’s mind off the driving task

2013 National Safety council counts over half million accidents related to distracted driving this year.

How big is the problem? (CDC site)

 

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 416,000 people injured in 2010.1

In 2010, nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.1

In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009.1 CDC Distracted Driving Study Talking on a cell phone while driving • 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days Texting or emailing while driving • 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. What are the risk factors? • Some activities—such as texting—take the driver’s attention away from driving more frequently and for longer periods than other distractions.4 • Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 may be at increased risk; they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.4 • Texting while driving is linked with drinking and driving or riding with someone who has been drinking among high school students in the United States, according to a CDC study that analyzed self-report data from the 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Students who reported engaging in risky driving behaviors said that they did so at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey.5

Key findings from the study revealed that:

Nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving. o Students who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and five times as likely to drink and drive than students who don’t text while driving.

Students who frequently text while driving are more likely to ride with a drinking driver or drink and drive than students who text while driving less frequently.5

We are not fussing at our Young Drivers alone… No one is qualified to be a distracted driver.

Our text today is about Martha, who is a distracted Disciple.

She is busy. She is hospitable. She is working, hard. She is doing everything she can, except listen to Jesus. There are many ways that our being good disciples can get in the way of being attentive to the presence of Christ.

Here are some of the Risk Factors

Serving without praying

Speaking without listening to God

Planning without studying the Word

Attending while assuming I’ve prayed, listened and studied enough..

Helping without making the connection with those served why we are serving Christ in serving them.

What about Mary? (Martha’s assumptions)

She is doing nothing helpful

She is does not care for the burden that Martha has assumed

She is not running around even looking busy

Mary is wasting her time.

The So What!

Who is driving your Discipleship? Are you so busy with Work that you cannot find Christ is as close as your home and family? Are you so divided from your family because agendas are in different directions? Are you so consumed that you know what is best that even Christ in your own home could not break through? The Good News Jesus is with us here Christ is with us at home God meets us on the road and wants to come into our hearts The Holy Spirit longs for our attention Stop. Look and Listen… Christ is with us, pay attention while Christ is near..

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Ephesians 2:19 “Christian Fellowship” JUMC 20130303

Eph 2.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, [NRSV]

You were made to belong in God's family

You were made to belong in God’s family

As we study Rick Warren’s, “What on Earth am I here for?” We have looked two of the pieces that help answer this question. First we learned that You and I are are planned and made for God’s Pleasure. We were not made by chance and we were not made for our own design and own reasons. We are the product of God’s reason and pleasure. Today we look at the reality that You and I are created for family. Not just any family, God hopes we will choose to be actively part of God’s own family.

As difficult as it might be for some to imaging, not everyone chooses to be part of God’s family. God wants us all. Some people choose other paths and beliefs and that does not make them God’s family in Christ.

The church is not an organization. It is not an institution. The church is not a club or a location or non-profit entity. The church is the spiritual family of God.

Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesis 1.5 that God’s unchanging plan is to bring us into family by adoption through Jesus Christ. God wants us to belong and makes a way for us to come into the family through Christ. John 1.12 reminds us that through Jesus Christ we have the privilege of becoming a child of God.

With belonging to the family come family responsibilities: The number on priority of family responsibility is to learn to love everyone else in the family.

I have heard folks say, “I can love them, but I sure don’t like them.” Most often this is not a true statement. If we mean to say. “I can love them, but their behavior makes it difficult for me to be near them.” It can be a true express of our relationship, but it is not a true definition of love.

Jesus called for his disciples to love one another, just as Jesus loves us. He calls us to do this not to make us happy or at peace, but for a reason beyond our own. Prove that your love one another as my disciples so the world will see the power of love and want to join the family as well.

The Christian life is about learning how to love.

Last week I suggested that Sunday’s are a practice day for living the other six. Today I suggest that we think of our church family as a laboratory where we practice and experiment loving someone other than our selves and those in our personal genetic and marriage families.

Christian Fellowship is our lab work for the world to check out.

If we learn to love those in our church family, it will shape the rest of the world, from now own.

Today we will look at (4) four levels of fellowship:

1. SHARING Together
Sharing together, fellowship of sharing.. starts with sharing
sharing conversation, food, shelter, etc.
met together constantly and shared everything

The disciples spent time and stuff together, “in common.”

fellowship takes time and practice
Iti s a choice that we make: choosing to share time and life with other folks…
SMALL GROUPS ARE ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, let us encourage one another Hebrews 10.25
No church building for 300 years… all met in small groups in homes.
Open you home, and you let people in your life..

We share Experiences/Events and Sorrows  Rom 12.15 Share your joy and sorrow.
When you gather, each one share something sing, lesson, story, prayer, insight, dessert, no one taking over, and you will all 1 Cor xx..14

2. Fellowship of Belonging together
KOINONIA” being committed to one another as we are to Jesus
Fellowship with each other as equal heir, child, person in Christ
Belonging is the difference in dating and being married, watcher vs agent of change.
You are members of God’s very own family and you BELONG in God’s household with every other Christian.
without a church we are an orphan without a home, no shelter, no home.. without other people you can’t do it.
rom12.5 we who are many belong to each other…
Belonging is not OPTIONAL.
The person who loves God must love other believers
Love your spiritual family
Taking the STEP of COMMITMENT of BELONGER, not just follower

3. Third, level of fellowship is SERVING together.
Deepen love in marriage, friendship, start serving God together, partner for a common purpose.
You love grows deeper when you rely on one another.
Example : Combat Veterans… last a life time.. What happen to keep them so connected? Serving together on a common task comes from no where else.
a. God never meant for us to serve alone.
b. We are partners working together for God 1 Cor for 3.9
c. You get more done
d. rely on each others strengths and over come each others weaknesses
e. If we don’t worry about the credit, more will get done Eph 4.16 each part does its work
4. Finally, FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING TOGETHER
Most intimate
When you share a heart ache, and walk along side someone without judgement, you will be closer together.
I makes us more human to share suffering
It is unifying
A community after disaster come together to rebuild
SHARE EACH OTEHR TROUBLE SNAPROBLEMS AND IN THIS WAY YOU OBEY THE LAW OF CHRIST
Love your neighbor as your self.
When you serve you do your part but when you suffer together you share your heart.
Help HANDS-ON someone in pain… learning how to love people who are suffering… GRC
Relationship are more important than accomplishments, achievements, success, money,

Life is about learning to Love

Wasting life if we are loving people in pain
Learning to love God : Worship
Learning to love others : Fellowship
PART of CHRIST BODY
if one suffer, all suffer together… if you have a tooth ache, your whole body knows it.
Be devoted like family member
Family lasts forever…God’s family
1 John 3.16 — We know what real love is,..we ought give up our lives for each other.

Our sacrament today is Holy Communion: Where Jesus invites us into this unique relationship once again.

At this table Jesus meetings with fellowship around a meal

We SHARE A loaf and cup

We BELONG because we are invited

We eat to be equipped to SERVE

We remember and share in the Christ’s SUFFERING with our own sin and pain.

Come Join the Fellowship! With Jesus and all the children of God.

Prayer: I’m making a choice to belong to a church and small group.. Im gong to be a belonged not just a believer…

Teach me the meaning of real love.

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