Posts Tagged love

A Life of Freedom, In the Spirit Gal 5:1,13-25


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. [NSRV]

Love is KEY

Paul’s “if you only hear one thing I say” phrase piggybacks Jesus answer to the question about the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

Some people don’t love themselves, don’t respect themselves, don’t value their life so are they excused treating others the way they view and treat themselves? No. For all the easy to remember, foundation principles, core sound-bites are an oxymoron. Therefore Paul follow that with an example:  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

A clearer explanation is to:

  • Love others first
  • Love others the way you would want to be loved
  • Love others first, the way you want to be loved and you will Love as God loves.
  • Even with this clarification, the advice is given to walk by the Spirit.

Walk By the Spirit.

Admonition: Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

In a culture that prefers shades-of-grey rather than black-and-white, yes-or-no, we have more trouble with Paul’s teaching than we dare admit.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Walk where every you want to walk, as slow or fast, jumping or crawling, BUT

stay on the path.

Follow the leader.

Walk by the Spirit.

When what I want is lined up with what God wants there is no problem. But what about when:

I have such a good idea.

Such a simple deviation?

When everyone else is taking that road not taken that diverges into a yellow wood, who wants to follow the Spirit then?

One of Frances’s teacher was giving them instructions on social media, she said, if it would make your grandmother happy AND proud, then it’s probably ok to post your words and pictures.

Paul states: It should be clear, it ought to be obvious, BUT it is difficult to see the obvious when our hearts and minds are set on ourselves, our fears, our brokeness and that of others.

Paul offers himself as a role model on many occasions, but most of us are not too quick to travel the known world to support others, reject family and traditions that were misinformed and misguided, and to be run out of town, ridiculed and imprisoned for our faith and trust in the Spirit.

Therefore: He gives us a sample list:

“And the like”

  • sexual and physical immorality
  • Impurity –
  • drunkenness
  • debauchery -allegiance to corruption
  • orgies
  • selfish ambition
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • emotional immorality
  • hatred, jealousy, fits of rage
  • Community/Social immorality
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • discord
  • and the like.


  •  This list is not prioritized

    • While we might be clear about sexual and emotional immoralities, what about Social immorality? When we step off the path to the “Left”, we are not spiritual progressive. When we step off the path to the “Right”, we are not spiritual conservative.
  • The List is not exclusive
    • The catch-all is “and the like.”
    • There are others, so don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only temptations and points of sin
  • The List is NOT a Check List to try either,
    • These let us know when we are out of bounds. It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God. The Spirit will give us power and guidance if we trust and follow.

FRUITS of the Spirit.


  • Relationship with God
    • love
    • joy
    • peace
    • goodness
    • faithfulness
    • self-control
  • Relationship with Others
    • forbearance,
    • kindness,
    • gentleness
  • “And the like”

Like the obvious OFF-THE-PATH, these are the obvious “On-the-Path” fruits.


  •  This list is not prioritized

    • Those that relate to our relationship with God and Others are equally important.
  • The List is not exclusive
    • Too many over time have tried to make this an exclusive list, when there are as many ways to be fruitful in the spirit as their are ways to not.
    • Don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only points of evidence.
  • The List IS a Check List to try,
    • It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God.. The Spirit wil give us power and guidance if we will trust and follow.

 So WHAT? Paul’s advice is to “Keep in Step”

In step with the spirit, not our neighbor.

Hiking at Glisson is “point” and “tail” most experienced hikers setting the pace and keeping the group together.

Bookends of protect accountability and ???


Stay on the path Bilbo Baggins.

Luke shared with us that the graduates practices marching out of the tunnel and into their seats at graduation for four hours to make smooth turns the 812 graduates to enter and be seated in less than five minutes, as compared to the 60 faculty entering single file over 8 minutes)

When you get out of step or off the path there is uncertainty.


Freedom comes on the path of the Spirit.


Stepping out is dangerous. Slippery and obviously out of bounds of the spirit and the law


Love us the freedom to be in the heart of God

(MissionInsite: Demographic Report: Baptist and Methodist in a ten mile radius are down 1-2 percent and people who report spiritual but not church are up 2-3 percent.) Who is leading whom, where?

Hear the Good News: God loves us even though we get out of step. God’s spirit is in direct connection with our spirit. Paul’s advice is to trust God, find our purpose and freedom in God. Trust the Spirit and walk in God’s direction.


Still not sure which direction? Join us every Sunday, find a class, study or small group, open your bible, read-study-share-question-grow; ask for direction and support in praying, serving, sharing…




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John 13:31-35 Love Command. 20160424 RSUMC


When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.’  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples. [NRSV]

It has become rather trite to ask: “What Would Jesus Do?” But it is the obvious response to the new commandment given in John 13:34 (Just as I have loved your, you also should love one another.)

The new commandment is a “super commandment.” When we are faithful with this one commandment, we are faithful in all the others.

  • Love welcomes the sinner, and sends them to go and sin no more.
    • Multiple people forgiven and healed, and charged to change their living.
  • Love welcomes the curious, and goes home with them,
  • Love welcomes those who need healing
    • And loves them even if they don’t say thank you or show appreciation. Loving for appreciation is the heart of co-dependency.
    • The Ten lepers, only one returns.
  • Love feeds, clothes and befriends
    • As in the great commission text, MT
  • Love welcomes those who seek forgiveness
    • Forgive me Lord,
    • Thief, today you will be with me in paradise
  • Love cares enough to help the fool not rebuilt on the sand
    • Parable of the house on the rock / sand
  • Love cares enough to:
    • Cry with the grieving
    • Drink with those who marry
    • Guide who work and fail trying
      • Disciples fishing
    • To be humble hear good news
      • Shepherds
    • The wise bring gifts
      • The Magi
    • The proud seek mercy
      • Sermon on the Mount
    • The outcast are made clean
      • Those possessed with evil
    • The busy and distracted are made still
      • Martha
    • The eager to listen and learn are taught and encouraged
      • Mary
    • Those who love as Christ love are sent out to love the neighbor, stranger and enemy
      • The Disciples and the 70
    • Jesus loving listens to fools and childish children, and finds a Love story of God’s heart to reach us.
  • Finally, Jesus shows us the highest gift of love by giving his life and demonstrates that in some occasions we do the same.
    • The Cross
  • And, Jesus shows us that loving God is trusting that our eternal living is God love us, eternally.
    • The Resurrection

Our text: Commands: Therefore, for us to love, as Jesus loves.

I listened to two different clergy friends ask me the same heartfelt question:

How could someone be a conservative and call themselves a Christian.”

The other asked:

How could so someone be a progressive and call themselves a Christian?

As I listen to the news of senseless shootings, political propagandas, and fears in the country and the church. I have been praying for God’s words to respond and lead!

Here is the ‘fruit’ I offer to both and to you. The singular answer is found in Christ’s command to love as we see and hear Jesus love.

Ask God to point to your core,

Your first thought and action,

Q: I’m I loving God, even if it means something different from the world understanding of love?

Q: Is my motivation love God, when I speak out or hide under the rock of in-action?

Q: Is my heart following what pleases the world or what pleases God’s heart?

Q: Am I praying and studying and challenging to know what God’s heart and love looks, sound, taste, feel and are all about?

A: When our love looks like Christ’s love, we will know when to speak out and when to keep quiet.

A: When our love is like Christ’s love we will see when the world or we, ourselves, twist love to be about our agenda instead of God’s.

A: The answer to the questions: Who’s love is most Christ like..

Answer: When Christ’s love leads, there can be different ways of showing love, but God is revealed as the purpose.

Is God Revealed? If God is not revealed

  • then we are either closed to seeing God in only our way or
  • the love of Christ is not present.

The Test: Ask of what you say, think and hear: Show me God’s love. The world is hungry and thirsty for God’s love. Show the world the love Jesus has shown the world, and we cannot go wrong.

If we only have ideologies, theologies and policies, and don’t have love of God at the heart, then they are noisy gongs of distraction.

Wherever you hear noise, is a time to share the love of Jesus Christ. Try it and see the Kingdom of God wherever you go.

Example: Politicians, Wars, Taxes, Shooting, Immigration, Budgets, etc. If you don’t explain how God is working through these to reveal God’s love, the love of Christ, then start our conversations over.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If you are not talking about these topics to avoid the drama and noise, then you are withholding vital opportunities to help yourself and others find God’s love where we are hurting most.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If you only seem to get angry and polarized in these conversations, then you are lost in the noise and need to turn to Christ and start over.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If others are seeing and hearing and experiencing the Love of Jesus Christ through you, then, BAM! you living in the life of Love! Love on in Jesus Christ.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Reset: The Power of Love 20160131 RSUMC


If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]

Do I love that dress?

In a world, where we love mashed potatoes, love our sports teams and love or hate the weather, it is important to spend a moment being clear about love.

This past Christmas Eve, I ran a few errands and saw three stores putting out Valentine season products on the shelf. At first, I was frustrated that we had not officially started Christmas and retailers had moved to the next money grab. But if we stop and think what Christmas is about, God loving us so much that our heavenly father sends his only child to bridge the gap of love that we cannot build nor complete. Maybe a giant heart-shaped box of delicious treasures is better Christmas gift.

Love:  Nothing Gained

ELOQUENT SPEECH: Genuine Love needs no response. That’s hard.

  • If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

CHARISMATIC VISION: Genuine Love sees through a show.

  • If I have prophetic powers,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

INSIGHTFUL COMPREHENSION: Genuine Love is not calculated.

  • If I understand all mysteries
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

MULTIPLE DEGREES IN MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES: Genuine Love has nothing to prove.

  • If I had all knowledge,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

UNWAVERING TRUST and BELIEF: Genuine Love is the core of faith.

  • If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

EXTRAVAGANT SELFLESSNESS: Genuine Love is Forgetful of the score.

  • If I give away all my possessions,
    • but do not have love,
      • I gain nothing.

SACRIFICIAL OFFERING: Genuine Love cannot be faked.

  • If I hand over my body so that I may boast,
    • but do not have love,
      • I gain nothing.


  1. Conditional statements about unconditional, foundational core of relationships.
  2. SuperMan/SuperWoman are meaningless without love. Right Action, Wrong Purpose
  3. Love is God’s meaning, purpose, and energy, what we have to gain. Love is God’s power plant
  4. BOTTOM LINE: Without Love all in life is meaningless. Scientific Method can never love. Science is accurate in measuring how, but not why. Love is why. The universe is not so big to make us feel special; it is to show how incredible God is.

The Object of Love NOT loves itself.

LOVE is sacrificial, selfless, extravagant, unwavering, trusting, knowing, insightful, visionary, and charismatic, but the reverse does not necessarily describe love.

The test if Love is love or something else: Does my love stop if Love is not returned?

  • You can take one for the team and not love the team at all.
  • You can act selflessly, seeking approval for your random act of kindness.
  • Your extravagance can become enabling. 
  • You can be “committed” and support something evil
  • You can trust wealth, fame, opinion polls or deeply held principles, but these are based on us, and we inconsistent, fragile and often wrong.
  • You can know many facts but not know how to use information
  • You can misguide judgement selfishly
  • Your visionary work can be selfishly motivated
  • Your charisma or charm can fool people
  • The Object of God’s Love is you. Hear the Good News.. 
    • God’s love is not if, then. God’s love is. God may not like our behavior,
    • God forever loves us.


  • Love is patient; tolerant of us and intolerant of our manipulations
  • Love is kind;      when is the last time we were snippy, rude or down right mean
  • love is not envious;     I want vs. God wants
  • love is not boastful     I’m right, you are wrong
  • love is not arrogant    I know better than you
  • Love is not rude.           Thoughtless or intentionally vindictive
  • Love is not insistent     My way or no way.
  • Love is not irritable      How can I get attention
  • love is not resentful     How come I’m not getting attention
  • love cannot rejoice in wrongdoing,     I told you so
  • love rejoices in the truth.  Admit I am wrong, especially when they are wrong too.
  • (sometimes being truthful is not popular or pleasing)
  • Love endure and hold up through all things,   vs. I will give you one more chance, or no more chances
  • Love believes through all things;     You crossed my line, your out.
  • Love remains hopeful through all things,    We can’t do it, That’s impossible.
  • Love lasts longer than anything else.           I give up

If we are honest, our conversations and actions reveal, while we know what loving is, we are not always loving when it get self-less.


  • Love never ends.
  • Prophecies end
  • language ends
  • knowledge ends
  • wealth ends
  • Love never ends.

The Best is Yet to Come

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

We learn to love as children, and it is to mature and grow.

  1. Speaking.. saying I love you.
  2. Thinking— Thinking about
  3. Reasoning   Justifying Love

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

  • Adult love, mature love, doesn’t have, to say it. We are not there yet..
  • Adult love, doesn’t have to plan it and think it through, it is automatic. We calculate..
  • Adult love, doesn’t have to have everything neat. We try to fix, cover up or manage love.
  • When we move toward God’s love, we loose ourselves and more fully enter the heart of God.

For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Love is a work in progress.. try letting your guard down and God through.

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Colossians 3:12-17 “Clothes for Christmas” 20151227 RSUMC Xmas1


94% of American’s celebrate Christmas (3). We have verbal and ideological battles with 6% of the population who don’t feel comfortable greeting each other this season by saying, “Merry Christmas.” It’s important to keep this in perspective. The number who keep a religious Christmas is about 70% with 29% celebrating some holiday during the same period of holidays (4). And yet we hear political debates about our nation not being a Christian nation, when 70% of the 94% who celebrate Christmas do so for religious reasons. Tis the Season to be religious.

The National Retail Federation reports

  • average spending per person reaches $805.65 in 2015
  • Gifts for family members will total $462.95 this year
  • 46 percent of their shopping this holiday season was conducted online,
  • 21.4 percent of smartphone owners used their device to purchase holiday merchandise in 2015,
  • 47%) said free shipping/shipping promotions are important factors  where to shop.
  • 55.8 percent of holiday shoppers will splurge on themselves


The number one anticipated “item” for Christmas is what category? ____ Clothes. Men 48% / Women 56%. But the number one “non-item” requested is gift cards. Men 51% / Women 66% (3)

What does that say? We expect Clothes at Christmas and more than half the time we’d prefer to pick out our own clothes than have people guess.

So this is where we begin hearing this passage from the church to Colossae:

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [NRSV]

Clothe one another in love

  • compassion
  • kindness
  • humility
  • meekness
  • patience

Imaging celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. Not just the first one.

Imaging, after all the celebration of Christmas morning of day one, we continues giving the gives of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.. all together as example of Christ’s love for us.

What does that look like?

Seeing or hearing the needs of someone who is hungry or wanting and we take them food for the day. It does not solve their every need, but it gives them one more day of perspective that they are not forgotten and their transformation is not hopeless. Or teach them skills to work or to deal with their brokenness, fears or depression. This is not the task of someone to do FOR us, but for us to give one-on-one. Gifts of compassion.

You could think of sarcastic and judgmental comments, that might be accurate, yet, instead you find kind words of encouragement or forgiveness. In speaking where you would have remained silent and offering kindness instead of leading with what’s wrong, you lead with the kindness you would hope to hear when someone is speaking with you. A gift of Kindness with words.

You and I could choose to give a gift out of our abundance away. You know how special it makes you feel to know someone has given you a gift of love, think how sharing what you have might make you both feel loved, even if it is yours to keep. A Gift of humble sharing, it cost no more because it is yours to give.

Often it is not the value of the gift, but rather the appropriateness of the gift. We wait and save up to give expensive gifts, when it is our present half-hour each day that transform lives around us. Which would I rather have today: a grand gift from my father, who died a decade ago or 20 minutes talking about the day with him face-to-face?  In the meekness of time, we share the lives we have to share.

Or could you find it possible to not fix someone’s problem, but rather be one who stands with them while they work through the trial and error of failures. So often we don’t want folks to live life for us, we want someone with us, to make certain we are not alone. Can you be present with someone who is alone and listen, encourage and wait with them, the gift of patience, for you and them.

For the remainder of the Christmas season, ten more days, try giving these gifts in love for Christ.

In the next ten days: Let everything you do, be done in Jesus name.

As you wake to start the day: In Jesus Name

As you write a check or open your purse or wallet: In Jesus Name

As you open you mouth to speak or your mind to consider: In Jesus Name

As you cook, clean, travel, read, share or listen: Do so in Jesus Name

As we shall then be clothed in love.








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Mark 12:38-44 “Put More in the Treasury” 20151108 RSUMC

2copperCoinsAs he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” [NRSV]

Everyone who came to the temple for worship, put something in the offering.

Maybe someone does want to talk about Money at church because we have question or misinformation about “Offering” is in our practice of worship and faith. What is the offering about?

  1. What the Offering is NOT:
    1. It is not about FAIRNESS
    2. It is not admission for the SHOW
    3. It is not about TAXATION
    4. It is not EARNING salvation or favor
  2. Offering IS about
    1. a THANK YOU note
    2. a Sign of TRUST of God,
      1. How we GIVE it.
      2. How we USE it.
    3. a RESPONSE to God’s loving, blessing, saving and claiming us in GRACE
    4. an ACT of CONFESSION or retribution – Zacheaus, the wee little man, made a big act of restoration.
    5. an Investment in the work of God’s business, kingdom, witness
    6. a PRACTICE of loving. [The widow is operating on love in her giving], the greatest is love.
  3. Offering was being watched, monitored, studies by Jesus and the Disciples
    1. It is important to learn about giving patterns and styles
    2. Strings or No Strings
    3. In times of plenty and times of lean
    4. Faith in Maturity not Quantity.
  4. The witness of the POOR widow. (A widow living on the generosity of temple)
    1. Poverty is closer to us every day. (If we set aside politics and look at the reality of what actually IS currently)
    2. Gross National Product($18.1T) Fascination Debt Clock and other fiscal measurements
    3. National Debt is increasing 4154,583 per minute. ($18.6T is meaningless)
    4. Our Product to Debt ratio is $1.03. That means if we spent everything we made we would be three cents short paying everything we owe.
    5. the BEGGING QUESTION: How much in debt do you have to be to be poor?
    1. Rather than figure how what the fair level of poverty. Poverty is not having a certain level of possessions, credit or money.
    1. Rather than find a fair level of persons to blame or label as the rich or the poor. Jesus’s FOCUS is on the GIFT.
  7.  The GIFT THAT IS GREATEST is the one who was able to give the LOVE
  8. If you only have two half-pennies and you give them to God: What statement are you making?
    1. God has more to give than I have to give, I will give all I have.
  9. If you and I give out of our abundance, extra, or wealth: But not out of love, What statement are we making?
    1. God demands, we must obey
    2. God is jealous and bad stuff will happen if we don’t
    3. God will bless me if I give
    4. God will make me rich if I give it all to him.
  10. The women who gives to two coins does not
    1. does not become the most wealthy members
    2. does not stop living at the poverty level
    3. does not become the high priestess or head scribe or rabbi
    4. does not get rich off of God’s investment plan.
  11. The woman gives as an loving act of TRUST that God will provide what she needs.
  • What does my offering say to me and what does it say to God.
  • Does my gift say: I trust you? I love you? I need you most of all? I can’t make it with out you?
  • Does my gift say: I have this to spare? I can get by with this? After I manage all the choices of wealth or poverty, then I will trust, give, love.

Homework: Last week we talked about Jesus answer to the greatest commandment, the FIRST is to Love God and Love your neighbor,

We show this love in how we give to God. This what the offering is about.

Teach a child about why you give. Your child/grand-child or a friends, or even a stranger. : Explain to a child (3-63)

  • I give because I love God.
  • I give because God knows what I need.
  • I give because I am faithful will all that I have.
  • I give because I trust God with my life AND livelihood AND future..

For those who like math?

Do I spend more resource of time/money/energy on God than being a team fan?

Pull out the check book, (exclude housing, utilities, food, car, insurance) How much do I spend in the other categories compared to God?

For those who don’t like homework. (Give because you know its good in your heart and watch for the Kingdom of God to show up where you give)

For those who are legalistic, “Give until it changes your heart.” – Rich Young Ruler.

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Matthew 5.20-30 Marriage, The Law and the Church RSUMC 20150628

MarriageLicenseFor I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. [NRSV]

Q: So is marriage a matter for church and preaching?

Marriage is a relationship founded and grounded in God and has been a faith relationship before it ever was a legal conversation.

A: And for that alone, it is forever an appropriate conversation for worship, study and defending.

June 26, 2015, The Right to Marry

The recent court decision, made by the majority of non-elected-legislative-judiciary, have create a new right to marry that includes all adult persons to marry the adult of their mutual choice independent of genders. Five people have changed an institution they did not create.

If you are celebrating or if you are angry about the new definition of marriage, I ask you:

What are you doing strengthening marriage before June 26, 2015?

  • 40% of children live in single parent household. What of marriage, independent of who can marry whom?
  • 33% (Barna) of US marriages end in divorce. [The 50% includes people who have been divorced more than once, which skews the overall numbers.] But if one in three divorce, is that an acceptable number we live with as those who so highly value marriage?
  • 1% of those who marry commit suicide
  • 2% of those who never marry take their life.
  • 9 % of married couples deal with alcoholism.
  • 24% of married couples deal with mental illness
  • 86% of unhappy couples deal with domestic violence

We don’t have a lot of room to talk about marriage, never the less, the court’s decision encroaches on our faith identity of marriage that is thousands of years in the making.

First know this: This is not the end of the church or our country or our society.

  • We are people of God and God remains with us.
  • Things might change, but God will not church.
  • God’s love for us will not change.
  • God’s presence with us is unchanging and
  • God’s call for us to hear and follow Christ will not change.

Secondly, Remember marriage is not a requirement. [A big shift in the court’s action is to name marriage as a right.]

  • 75% of adults do get married. 25% do not marry.
  • It has been the responsibilities of each state to license those who get married.
  • The government cannot force us to marry to nor force us to be single.

Where Are We, What’s Next?

These past two weeks have indeed been a challenge to our faith. And while I am disappointed at Friday’s Supreme Court’s decision to “legally” redefine what Christians, Jews and Muslims, have believed the covenant of marriage to be for millennia, remember that the court’s decision does not change our Biblical and theological worldview nor does it change our denomination’s stance on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as expressed in the church’s Discipline.

Only the General Conference speaks for the entire United Methodist Church. The General Conference of the United Methodist church will convene in May of next year in Portland, Oregon to discuss this and other issues that face the church. It has the potential to be divisive, but it also holds the opportunity to be a time of faith renewal.

How should we best respond to the court’s decision: Be Not Afraid.

God is Good, All the Time, RSUMC likes to affirm.  Remember that God is still at work redeeming the world to Himself. Trust that even though we do not understand all of God’s ways, God is involved in the events of human history…even as hard and unclear as they may be.

Teach by Loving

Love your neighbor. Let our words, witness and response to all people be loving. A loving response will always be our strongest example of leadership.  You will be drawn into conversations and discussions of “winners and losers.”  Be respectful to those with whom you disagree. Be slow in anger and even slower to speak, email and post.

Its about God, People and Relationships not rules and laws

Know that you are always talking about someone’s child, grandchild or sibling. It is easy for us to objectify a conversation and forget the laws and commandments are for broken and sinful people in a broken and sin filled world.

Be Faithful in your intentional spiritual growth

This is a time for us to step up our faithfulness in the Christian life. Don’t let other people’s words or actions cause you to do harm to others or to compromise your Christian witness. We are accountable to Christ for what we do and say.  We are not responsible for what other people do or say. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you and do the best you can to express your hope in God’s redeeming grace for us all. (Romans 2.23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.)

The Government is not God

Remember: the Supreme Court, even it follows the constitution properly, does not speak for God and does not speak for the United Methodist Church. The General Conference Speaks for the church and the Discipline guides our practices.  Our stance on these issues and our practices have not changed. The church only allows me to conduct and attend marriage of one man and one woman. The church values every person with equal value from God, who creates us all.

Trust and Follow the Holy Spirit

In conversation with our D.S. and Bishop I was reminded that as our United Methodist Church is a global body, a global church, and not simply a U. S. church, and it is not at all unusual for the legal, moral and spiritual to be in tension in our various countries. We continue to be the church even though we might be in contrast with the laws of many lands.

We are in this together

As your pastor, you are in my prayers, and as your pastor I ask for your prayers in this matter. We might be tempted to allow anger, fear or ignorance to rule the day, but I ask that we constantly seek to help each other live with current reality. Life is not easy at any time, but we must live trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance to enable us to minister to all people in the light of

God is with us.

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


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!

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John 15:9-17 “Friends First” RSUMC 20150510 Youth Sun Mothers Day

JesusAsFriendAs the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. [NRSV]

You are my friends. Jesus has given his life for his friends, “that’s what friends do.”

Social Media: Examine the name, the communication and promotion of our social lives. It is a commercial website. It’s purpose is to make money and to be the popularity of discussion. It would be much more helpful and accurate if the ‘friends’ on Facebook were known as “connections” or “links.” Friendship is so much more than selecting a button to indicate we are, or are not, friends. And, yet, people allow this to determine their social success and identity based on the people who have clicked a virtual button that says, “we are now FRIENDS.”

Jesus is defining friendship ask someone who shows unconditional love. Jesus loved us as friend long before we click the words, “I accept you.” “I believe in your.” Or “I want to be your friend.” Jesus’s love for us has been shown to us before we were born, through his taking our place on the cross for our brokenness and sin.

He didn’t say, “Love me first and then I will love you back.” “‘Like’ my photo and I will be your friend.” That is conditional world of social media. It is contractual and requires no love, minimal trust and relatively no commitment. Now don’t get be wrong I enjoy a fully video, a beautiful photo, or sharing an meaningful moment through social media, but it is not the measure of our friendship.

It’s a fun tool to be connected with friends, but the basis of the relationship is best not be based on the terms of FB, for as your know they change ever six months, if not sooner.

The commandment is for us to LOVE like we are loved. Friend as Jesus has friend-ed us First.

As Jesus’ friends we are Chosen and Appointed

  • To Bear Fruit in my name
  • “I want to see some love’n.”
  • Mother’s Day: For the 90 person of mothers who love unconditionally

Love God, by..

  • Loving your family
  • Love your enemy
  • Love your neighbors
  • Love the stranger/foreigner
  • Start by being friends: Start the relationship first…

It Ain’t Easy to Love

  • Christ’s friends make the first move. Show grace and forgiveness first.
  • Loving is not always easy, simply or pretty.
  • Go First, Lead by example
  • Open the door
  • Start the conversation

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John 13:1-17, 31b-35 “Humbled to Love Another” Holy Thursday 2015 RSUMC

communion_Grapes Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [NRSV]

Be known as those who humble themselves before others:

  1. 1. Not allowing others to walk over you, but know you are strong enough to lead by serving
  2. 2. Humility is not thinking you are worthless, rather live knowing you can give yourself away to God because God has given Christ for our life and relationship.
  3. 3. Foot Washing is a intimate act of service. There are others that are equally intimate: sitting at table to eat is intimate. Transforming coffee time into teaching to read time (DC homeless example)
  4. 4. Develop a self image that reflects Jesus in you (Thoughts and actions)

A Reputation: How we are known and seen in the eyes and perspective of others.

  1. 1. A balance on not defining ourselves by others, at the same time being an example for others to follow.
  2. 2. Be known as one who God self-humbled to love and save, therefore be bold in loving others.

We come to the table to receive what we cannot provide for ourselves.

  1. We are served that we might have what is needed to become a servant leader
  2. We are fed because, while we can fill our lives, we cannot satisfy our spirits without God’s spiritual food.
  3. This table is the fruit of faithfulness for the purpose of bridging our unfaithfulness.

I’m not worthy, but to God I am worth it. REPEAT and SHARE

  • Come to the Table… Humble yourself and be served
  • Leave this Table… Lead by serving others as Christ has done for us.

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Ephesians 2.1-10 “Saved by Grace” RSUMC 201503015

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

  1. Before you found salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step you through… Tab A into Slot B:

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

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