Posts Tagged Faith-sharing

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.

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:18-24 Sharing Foolishness

File_000

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]

We live in a world with a growing distrust of the faith we share.

  • Feed the hungry school children is important because of fairness rather than as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • Caring for the sick has been identified as a human right instead of as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • People want to live a neighborhood where folks love their neighbors but don’t make it a religious thing.
  • Business rally to support the Red Cross but not UMCOR and the church
  • I don’t need God or the church because I have government and laws instead
  • I don’t need Jesus because I can live with a different reality of what pleases me.
  • I trust what is preached in the name of “news” but not the “Good News”
  • NOTE: We waste precious time assigning blame, so may we encourage one another to be faithful to the task.

Blame: Because a few have been foolish

We must take responsibility and ownership, confess our sin and remain faithful to God.Before we share our faith: Our task is to be clear about our faith, hold to it, through the storm.

Foolishness and Wisdom

The Problem: Culture says, “When I can get enough people to agree with me that  YOUR wisdom is foolish, we can call our approved-proofed foolish pure “Wisdom” and truth.

The Reality: Wisdom and Truth have not changed. But the pillars of our faith have been discredited by unfaithfulness, exploited by those who are threatened by the Christain Faith and our believing/wanting more than God as our hope.

Our response

The reason why it is foolish to use social media to persued beliefs is: Anyone with any purpose can log on, speak what they call truth, wisdom, and salvation, but that does not make it wise, true nor the hope of our salvation.

Our charge is not to be ignorant, stubborn or inflexible, rather relying on SCRIPTURE, understood through Tradition, Reason, and Experience to inform and encourage us and God will not fail or forsake us.

Perspective:

  1. Tradition tells us the successes and failures of the past: learn from mistakes and successes.
  2. Reason tells us that God has purpose, order, relationship and love hard-wired into us and the universe and expects us to use the mind and reasons that set us apart from everything else in creation.
  3. Experience is the direct effect of God, Jesus, The Spirit, and the church that reveals something that tradition and reason cannot.

Remember:

  1. Being faithful is not a political position. My ultimate allegiance is to God, not any government. (We are called to participate in our civic community, but it will never be our hope, purpose or salvation.)
  2. Love cannot be summed up by ideas, scientific study, research, and theories.
  3. Blame/Fault does not mend spirit, heart, minds: This is God’s work in us.
  4. Being faithful is not something someone else can do for me. Faith is our way of life. with every breath, our task is to grow closer to God and one another.

Examples

Wise Acts of Foolishness

  • To assume God and religion were created and thus we can create something we like better.
  • To believe that the majority of voices of self-focused blindness can see better than God.
  • To believe the Bible is only a history book rather than a living point of access.
  • To let the world define
    • you and
    • your mission
    • your identity and
    • your value.
  • It is foolish to write off God and the church because you have been hurt, judged or offended by someone in the name of God.
  • It is foolish to think we have told our story once and that is enough.

Foolish acts of Faithness

  • To forgive
  • To trust
  • To give our gifts, tithes, support
  • Devoting time to prayer and acts of service
  • The study, exploration, and celebration our faith milestones: Staying current with our examples as witness and testimony. Don’t just tell the big story, also tell today’s story of faith.

Home Work:

  1. Be diligent, committed, intentional to hold, grow and share your faith

2. Trust God will guide us through the most twisted and backward reversal of what is good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, wise and foolish.

3. Test it: Take something you hear our culture say and ask what does God say? What do God’s people say? What Scripture says? What is God trying to have us hear/know/experience now compared to times in the past?

4. I mean we are called to wrestle with the hard stuff in our lives, in our families, in our word and trust God will guide us through. When we do this for the world to see, we are sharing our faith in everyday ways.

 

 

 

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Psalm 107:42 “Well, Shut My Mouth” 20150620

ShutMyMouth

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; 7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. 

23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;

37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.

42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. 43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord [NRSV]

One thing that strikes me about this psalm is that describes so many thing we recognize in the life and witness of Jesus. So it is important that we keep in context the words of this hymn for worship as images that Jesus later embodies that those who were familiar with the psalm in the Jewish community could see as fulfillment of God’s presence in Jesus.

If on Father’s Day, a dad wanted to see the good works of his son, the psalmist gives a good list that Jesus reveals in his teaching and witness.

  • Water for the woman at the well
  • The tearing of the curtain at the temple at the crucifixion
  • The woman who avoided death because none could cast the first stone
  • The calming of the sea
  • The healing of the sick at the gate
  • Jesus’ parables of sowing
  • Jesus’ parable of loosing saltiness
  • Jesus multiplying food for the hungry
  • The invitation for the prince to sell  and follow

This somewhat obscure psalm tells so many of Jesus’s teachings and stories in one and was written a millennium-plus before hand. It is remarkable inclusive of many ways God’s presence and message is revealed across the testaments.

Verse 42 is the response to the stories of God’s work.

When we see the ways God is reveled in the world, we can response in one of two ways:

a. We see God at work and we are glad, energized and joyful to see God at work.

b. We see God at work and shut our mouths.

The admonition (advice) is to

  • be wise,
  • give heed and
  • consider God’s love at work among us.

2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?

Conference statistician Darris Baker reported the following 2014 statistics compared to 2013: And are we yet alive?

Conference Membership: 361,329 (Down 2054)
Professions of Faith: 5,398 (Down 204)
Average Worship Attendance: 119,976 (Down 3,121)
Average Sunday School Attendance: 48,888 (Down 296)

The mighty North Georgia conference is no longer the leader and we pray it is not on the same track that Mr Wesley’s beloved Church of England was on. But it begs the question: When we see God’s love present in the world do we give God the praise and witness to God’s presence? Are we considering and looking for God’s revelation in the world? Are we following in the witness of Christ in our actions and bolding in our words or have shut our mouths too long?

Homework: Outline this psalm and see at least 10 ways to practice our piety, to grow our spirit and witness God’s love through Christ in our lives, and then act accordingly. For we live in a world and season when people

  1. long for God and are thirsty. Give them living water.
  2. feed hungry,
  3. encourage the prisoners,
  4. offer thanksgiving and sacrifice,
  5. sing songs of joy,
  6. give peace to those at their wits end,
  7. go to church to support and be supported.
  8. be salty and bold in the face of evil.
  9. water a garden to feed the famished.
  10. open your mouth and share the joy rather than stay quiet and in your own mind.

Now Get to Work!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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….

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

John 1:43-51 “Can Anything Good Come Out of Rock Spring?” 20150118

NazarethCity.jpg
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]

 

1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.

Discipleship is process of networking.

The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.

We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.

Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.

In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship

Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.

Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.

Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.

2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?

Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.

Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012.  Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.

  • Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
  • In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
  • In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
  • In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.

What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.

What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.

The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ

Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning

3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.

Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.

We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.

I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.

When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.

The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.

Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.

So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.

Amen.

 

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Genesis 50:15-21 “Grudge Match” RSUMC 20140921

GrudgeHand 15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. [NRS]

The Leverage of the Grudge:
This passages is the point of reversal in the Joseph story. Joe, in an act of restitution, at best and getting even, at worst asks his brothers to bring his father to see him.

There is a fine line between teaching a lesson and passive aggressive attempt of getting even. On one hand the hiding of treasures in the food supply bags and asking for the journey of his youngest brother and then father, together are delicate examples of learning from punitive responsibilities. Joseph was captive, rejected, sold into slavery. The brothers are afraid but never in actual danger.

Fear and Avoidance
The power of fear is a great force. Think of those things, people, relationships, and feelings we fear: Name three: (Not: Fear of sharing, fear of talking in church, fear of being to close to someone else)

  • We are afraid of embarrassment, failure, weakness that we avoid the truth, avoid conversations, avoid confrontation.
  • We are afraid of what might happen, and make little allowance for what has actually happen. There is a healthy level of fear that keeps us respecting fire, electricity and causing harm to others.
  • But when fear keeps us from relationship, then we give in to the power of fear and allow it greater strength than God, grace and mercy (forgiveness)

Shared Love, Shared Grief
When the brothers confront Joseph and confess their father’s death, the are joined in their grief. Fear melts in their common loss and common love.

Some funerals remind us of our own frailty, But our grief is shared because we share love for the person who died or we love those who are dealing with the loss.

Do Not Be Afraid
The common words of assurance are “Be Not Afraid.” It is the same encouragement that angels announce to Mary and to shepherd and to Disciples after the resurrection.

When we find the core love that binds our relationship, we have the foundation for what it means to be a Christian.

This is the homework: Last week it was easy to eat, this week we step things back up. Be attentive and alert for someone who is afraid: Starting with the love that unites us in Christ then speak the truth in that love. Because being in that relationship is better than being right.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

John 1:29-42 “Have You Shared Jesus” JUMC 20140118

share_this_icon

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). [NRSV]

There is classic line in the movie Forrest Gump, where Lt Dan asks Forrest if he had found Jesus, Forrest replies, “ I didn’t know he was lost.”

There are those who take literal the need to ask verbatim: “Have you found Jesus?” but for those of us in the church, in the family, the more important question to ask one another is, “Have go gone to share the news that Jesus is near.”

Where do we find Jesus today?

In the quest to find the historical Jesus, there is a fundamental need for faith to accept the proof. I enjoy the history channel as much as the next view. They continue to have programs that offer evidence and proof of different artifacts and discoveries that attempt to prove the validity of the Jesus and other bible characters, but in the end we have to believe that the artifacts, interpretations and discoveries satisfy our beliefs and understandings. It remains a matter of faith and faith shared.

The identity and presence of Jesus is not proven by DNA testing; there are no birth records, and no formal credentials are offered. It is a matter of the testimony of faithful witnesses. Sharing what they have seen, heard and experienced.

John who baptized Jesus tells by-standers, “See that fellow over there? He is the lamb of God. He is the Messiah. He is the one.”

He further reports, “If you come to see and hear me, you are wasting your time; you need to be listening and following him.”

Here is his evidence as an eye witness: “I saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove and it sat on his head, and it stayed there for the whole time.” It is the same evidence that Jane and Michael Banks have while traveling with Mary-Pop-ins, when they visit the bird lady in streets of London. The birds flocked to her and stayed with her. She is kind but she is not Messiah; she is not the lamb of God.

So Andrew hears John tell a story and that compels him to go and tell his is brother Simon to come and see Jesus.

What stories compel us to tell our families that need to come and see and listen to Jesus?

We hear reports about children who have gone through these cold days and nights knowing there were given coats in Jesus’ name and have touched people’s hearts to prepare to give for the children who will need coats in the seasons ahead. What sparks that generosity toward strangers? It is the love and presence of the Messiah, the lamb of God.

We hear of people crossing cultures to build churches, paint and repair houses,

We hear of thousands of people receiving food, clothes, counseling, encouragement and help with transportation, housing, medicine and utilities in our very community all shared to the witness that God provides ways to meet these needs and reveal God’s love toward all people.

We hear of hundreds of lunches are prepared to feed children that parents have left to fend for themselves and we know they have food to eat that have been shared because Christ challenges to share in his name.

We hear music that comes from mortal mouths, hands and hearts that transcends our collective effort to bring people to know the joy and power of Christ with us through cantatas, plays and songs of faithful voices and musicians.

We gather in small groups, classes, studies and service groups compelled to find God’s Word and Work alive in our presence and

The question is not can we tell about Jesus… The question is who has not yet heard?

45% of our own community report they have not heard something worth coming to church to know more about.

Back the text: Look at the God-trusted method of communication. One person gives first hand witness. One person hears who has not seen. Their trust in the story of faith, compels the first hearer to tell someone else. Their re-telling inspires someone they know to go see and hear for them.

Faith sharing compels people to want to hear, see and know more.

I believe we are faithful in sharing the witness of the story when we reach out serve others, but that is the first part of a two part equation.

We are not just doing good deed to be doing good. We go and tell, in many ways, so that people will know God is at work in their presence.

The choir, organ, piano, bulletins, counters, vacuum cleaning, heating, building, painting, patching, preaching, teaching, and more has all worked together to remind one another that God Almighty is in this very place.

If you don’t know where to see God at work, look at the hours devoted, my so many, toward revealing God’s presence is real and available: They question is who is not here who needs to know it?

God know God is here: But some folks has been convinced the church gets in the way. If we have done all that we do and yet they do not come, are we off the hook? Can we write them off?

What if Andrew went with great zeal, faith, authority and confidence to tell Simon, and Simon said,
I’ve got work to do.
I have something more fun to do.
I have something more important to do.
If it makes you happy then you go listen to God’s lamb.
I’m waiting for something more convincing?
I need more evidence.

The question of the text is what in John’s witness inspires Andrew to think of Simon?
What in Andrew’s enthusiasm and conviction inspires Simon to get up and go see for himself?

This is the powerful part of the text for us to see:
It is the telling of the story. God works through our telling the story. This is where the presence of the Spirit remains, resides and is revealed.

When we stop telling the story, people stop trusting, believing and responding.
No, not everyone jumps every time we tell it, but they will certainly not hear if we don’t tell.
So go tell them, Jesus Christ is here. Come and see, hear and believe for yourself.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Acts 4.5-12. “Member Since 1974” Jumc 20120429

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” NRSV

Peter is found here making a public faith witness, some would say preaching or might say giving a testimony. I suggest that he is seizing the floor and turning the tables on his audience to share his faith in Jesus Christ.

In the 23rd psalm we are familiar of the two images of Gods grace, first is the good shepherd and second is the banquet of excess in the presence of ones enemies. This is the setting in which Peter is speaking.

Recall, it is the same high priest that called for Jesus to be turned over and crucified… Peter who had be hesitant and denying is now bold in the Holy Spirit.

We have young girls and boys that have come to make a public and bold statement that it is Jesus Christ that lives in them and this day forward they are living boldly for Jesus Christ.

For some it is a curious ritual, confirmation, but it is a witness of God’s love at work.
It is the beginning of a journey of faith. Our accepting the life and help Christ offers.

It does not mean we are ready to move mountains.

Think about Peter:
Gets to see transfiguration but misses the point of being in the moment and spiritual confirmation.

Peter walks on the water but sinks when we looks at the storm I stead of Jesus.

Peter go who tells Jesus what he should be doing and Jesus call Peter Satan himself

And Peter who denies Jesus three times Ana is hiding after the resurrection…

And now, Peter, in the face of bodily harm or even death proclaims with boldness. There is a vast period of trial and maturity for him.
Those who profess ‘Jesus is Lord!” for the first time here today have not been tested in the ways that are coming.

They will face fears, disappoints, jealousy, temptations, and endure spiritual failures.

Yet Peter’s boldness in the Holy Spirit is a witness of the maturity that will come.

In 1974 I confirmed the baptism that my parents started in 1964. And a rather uneventful Sunday I too stood at the alter rail with my class hoping I would hear the voice of God would speak to my heart, if not to the whole lot of us. But other than hymns and rituals it was a silent worship time.

Just last year at the Jordan river I prayed that God might have a word or two speak with boldness.. Near the ancient source. But it too was a silent experience, until I was about to get back on the bus, and with the clarity that I now speak to you, I heard these words, “I have not forgotten you, I am yours and you are mine,”

Within moments of this divine moment the bus pulled away on a schedule that did not allow me to linger and cherish the moment. It would be words of assurance that empower other days that have followed and will follow..

Not in my time but in the time I need Gods boldness.

Here is a faith statement from one of our confirmands:

To me, being a Christian means to love Jesus Christ with all of your heart and be as Christian like as possible at all times, and never be afraid to spread his word. I also think that you should take time during the day and have an alone time with God. Most of my alone times with are God are in the mornings and evenings, before I eat, and sometimes when I just feel I need to pray. Being a Christian also means participating in church activities like mission trips, fundraisers, church services, etc. Lastly, I think being a Christian means that you should accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and that he died for you and everybody else, and that what I think it means to be a Christian.

They share this anonymously today but the days are coming when boldness will shine.
The question that Peter models for us, is will we be bold when we need to be?

Twitter has been the bold voice at General Conference from my overhearing.

When will you stand up for Christ… Is it when you are comfortable and ready or when God is asking to speak through you? Be bold. Be bold. Don’t be right, be bold! Be in the spirit and be bold, today!

, ,

Leave a comment

I John I:1-4 “I declare” Jumc 20120415

1 John 1:1-4 “I Declare” JUMC. 20120415 [9&11]
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. NRSV.

We have a story..
What have we seen and heard?
{Scripture, witness of community.}
Who have we touched?
{Family, work, community,…?}
With our own eyes?
{How has God shown up in your life?}

“We” share a story
What is he story of our fellowship?
Tell the church story for starters..
Where have we seen God working through our church?
Tell our collective witness, UMC..

We ARE the people who tell, write share the story;
Tell it. Don’t expect some else to tell your side, version.
Write it. Make a lasting impact beyond the moment. Write it for others to read.
Live it. Make it so know that there is no doubt thats others know

, ,

Leave a comment

Luke 15:1-10 “Lose Yourself” JUMC 09122010

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. 8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’ -NRSV

There was a certain bank teller who had 100,000 in daily transactions. At the end of the day as the tallied her drawer she was short 10,000 dollars. So the went home and hoped it would show up tomorrow? Not.

There was a certain teacher who took 100 children on a field trip and one was left at the museum. The teacher called the parents and told them that their irresponsible first grader ran off and they would have to go retrieve the child themselves. Nope

There was a certain grand parent that had ten grand children coming over to their house for Christmas. The children were eager to share a delicious meal and to share Christmas gifts. When getting out the gifts there were only nine gifts, one grand child would just be disappointed this year.. (Grandpa said, so you think she’d like my denture cleaner?)

There was a certain baseball card collector who had all 523 of the American Tobacco Company’s Baseball card set, from 1909 to 1911, for an national interview on ESPN prior to the World Series. When live feed aired he opened the protective case and realized the Honus Wagner card was missing. He doubted that anyone would notice and continued with the interview undisturbed at the loss of the card that sold for $2.35 million. NO.

There was a person who was homeless got a third shift job watching cars at the dealership. The owner loaned him a car to drive to work . He could sleep all day and make $20 an hour watching that no one entered the lot during the night. If someone came on the premises they were to call the police and owner immediately. The very first night a gang show up and hot wired one of the cars and drove that Viper away. It was not the night watchman’s car; it was a rough and dangerous group. He tried calling the police and the owner but could not reach either. Should he leave the lot full of cars and the rest of the gang near by to race after the stolen car? Are you crazy?

There was a home owner who had two children. One stayed home to take car of the parents and all the affairs and business of the family and household. The other asked for their college fund during high school, dropped out of school, raced across the country and spent all the money in less than six months and was dumpster diving to find food.
Every day the parents would check emails, voicemails, mail box for a trail of bills and wonder what had happen to their youngest child. But knowing that they had the older child to care for them the rest of their days they gave up waiting and hoping and forgot the other child had ever been around… That’s not like Jesus parables..

The powerful part of Jesus’ parables are not in the story, but in the heart of the parable’s teaching.

The contexts of the parables are to address grumblings from the Pharisees and scribes. The teachers of the law, had joy in the traditions and they shared art of sticking in the mud. They were avoiders of a change and students of preservation and order.

Jesus went to the temple at age twelve and amazed the teachers as a child. As an adult his spending time with the unclean, non-religious folks was an insult in their eyes.

The message of Jesus is that everyone needs to hear the joy that God has a claim of love and grace, no matter what they have done or become.

The Pharisees and scribes held the responsibility of reaching the people. [The Pharisees were the more progressive group, as they allowed for the possibility of Resurrection after death, the Saddusees did not, that’s why they were Sad-you-see.

Just as the church, we hold the charge of teaching, sharing, witnessing and sharing the joy of Christ with everyone. This is our message. This is our mission. This is our work.

If you knew just one person who was sad and you could cheer them, would you reach out to them?
If you know just one person who was out of work would you help them look for work?
If you knew just one person who feels alone and scared of what waits from the test results could you hold their hand and heart while they wait.
If you knew just one person who had lost so much and you could love and befriend them even if they never got any of the stuff back because you cared about them and not their things, would you be their friend through the toughness.
IF you know just one person who was grieving and you could listen through their tears and grow with them in that valley of shadows, would you do it?

Hear the Good News! Jesus is interested in everyone, and sends his disciples to everyone.

Hear the Good News! God’s heart is joyful, God is laughing, God is beaming when do what Jesus did.

So what is God doing when we act like the Pharisees and scribes who were threaten by the example and call of Jesus? No so glad. Not laughing, not beaming so brightly..

SO WHAT. So what do we do with Jesus’ stories? Are they interesting children’s messages only?

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: