Posts Tagged People of God
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.
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
pray with others,
pray for other,
read the prayers of others
Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing
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
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.
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. [NRSV]
It strikes me as funny in this teaching by God through the prophet, Isaiah, to envision the people of God as restorers of the streets. You know the jokes and wise cracks about how many DOT workers does it take to dig a hole? Answer: one, but it takes a half dozen or more to watch them do it.
In a nutshell, the prophet is saying that our society as people of faith is so broken that we can’t afford to stand by and watch because there are too many pot-holes for people to fall into as it is.
In this passage we hear God’s steaming temper and over-whelming frustration. God has fired up and has Isaiah on full alert:
The Kitchen Sink Too!
God says to the prophet, Isaiah, Don’t hold back anything. Blast out the news like a trumpet.
Describe in every detail my people’s rebellion and sins.
This makes for a good story. There is a lot of drama and passion in this story. And its good to hear God all fired up at those delinquents way back then in stead of talking about us.. am I right?
The Message Bearer
The prophet has the task of telling the truth, the whole truth.
Isaiah is part of a long tradition of those who are charged with telling folks what is generally bad news. Imagine interviewing for that job! Argg. This time God is calling on Isaiah to let it all hang out! Give them the whole dose of medicine, even if it is bitter and vial.. it would only be compared to their sin.
God’s Frustration is not an absence of Love
If God didn’t care, God would not have prophets to warn and instruct.
God would just blow us away like dust in the desert and start over.
Hear are God’s lines in the sand:
1. They ask for my help in prayers; they study my ways, BUT, they think knowing ABOUT their God replaces a relationship WITH God.
2. The Role of Spiritual Disciplines
they ask of me righteous judgments, they want me close by in times of trouble,
But they ask, “Why do we fast?” Why do we have to go to church? Why do have to give? Serve? Witness?
Why do we humble ourselves?
Fasting as a Spiritual Practice
At the core it is the denial of a basic physical necessity to make time and awareness for the necessity of basic spiritual food.
It is a practice not a contract. We are not due because what we have done. Take care of me because I built your place of worship! No, instead it is the activity of giving up what I want physically for what I need spiritually.
Calling a Sin, a Sin.
Isaiah is not so much teaching about Fasting but what’s going on in the presence of religious practice.
• You talk a good game in the worship house, but you treat people with disrespect.
• You bend the rules to suit your own pleasures and justification.
• You fight with fist and tongue, while you are worshiping and serving.
What Does God Require?
• Do you think I need people to bow down before me like the grass
• Do you think I need to see ashes on your head or your Sunday best?
• Who let you decided what is acceptable to the Lord?
Here what I want to see PRONTO
• Seek what is fair; Change systems and structures that keep people down.
• Free people of to be independent, God created us as free, individuals.
• Set people free to who are addicted, entrapped, alone, afraid, oppressed.
• Break the attitudes that manipulate people.
• Feed the hungry,
• Open your home to the homeless
• Clothe the naked,
• Encourage God’s people instead of cutting them down or holding them back.
How to Get God’s Attention?
Do the Right things and God will reward your righteousness.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Benefits of Righteousness
The LORD will guide you continually,
• satisfy your needs in parched places,
• make your bones strong;
• you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
• Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
• you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
• you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
• the restorer of streets to live in.
Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]
Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:
- Citizenship in Heaven
- Comforted here and now.
- Inheritors of the earth
- Filled with Satisfaction
- Swimming in Mercy
- Able to see God’s presence
- Known to be God’s child
- Have a place in heaven
- Heavenly Reward Waiting
Character Traits of the faithful
- Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
- Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
- Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.
Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.
Look Around you today
Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time. This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.
We come to the table because we have turned the other way.
Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.
- Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
- Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
- Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
- Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
- Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
- Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
- Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.
Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.
An Opposing View
- Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
- Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
- Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
- Cursed are those who know better than God
- Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
- Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
- Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
- Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God
The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.
If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.
Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:
- Am I always right?
- Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
- Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
- Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
- Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
- Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
- What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?
What’s at Stake? EVERYTHING
- Being Blessed or Curse.
- Being included or outside.
- Saved or Damned.
- Loved or hated
- Remembered or forgotten
- God’s or my Own.
What is God doing about it?
- Has given us Christ to follow
- Has given us Christ for our sin
- Has given us Christ for living
- Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
- Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
- Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
- Has given us Music to tell and share
- Has given us ministry to share and reach
- Has given us resources to build and invest
The question, Our Question:
“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”
Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.
37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD. [NRSV]
This is a remarkable vision of the prophet Ezekiel for the people of God to hear, understand, and take to heart themselves.
On one hand it is difficult to take one person’s experience and try to make it your own. Usually we get lost trying to be like someone rather than learning from the lessons they have shared.
One of my professors in seminary, Jonathon Jackson, was a student of teacher, preacher and spiritual mystic, Howard Thurman. For years Jonathon took every class Dr Thurman offered, read all his books, sought his counsel in his office as often as he could. As hard as he tried he did not find the same joy and power Dr Thurman expressed and witnessed. He confronted his hero and said, I have tried with all my strength to live and act just as you have done and it has not worked for me. Dr Thurman replied, ‘The Good Lord has already made a Howard Thurman, what [he] wants is a Jonathon Jackson.’
We take the message of others and applied the lessons to fit our own spiritual skin.
Ezekiel is taken by a divine messenger to witness the miracle of resurrection. The Good News we celebrated just 50 days ago at Easter, continues as true then as now. He lives!
Pentecost asks: So what are you doing about that fact?
Ezekiel is taken to the valley of the shadow of death and see’s the evidence of futile fighting our physical battle.. The bones of a great nation that has lived and died and what do they have to show for their lives?
The Great Work is a step-by-step reconstruction of the impossible.
This is the message of the resurrection! What seems impossible, God can do and desires to do through us.
In the field, bones rattle and come together end-to-end
Sinews form, muscles spring out and attach
Skin forms and the lifeless signs of death are no more.
Now there is a great nation of living, breathing, people of God’s making.
For some the image of imperial storm trooper drones are pictured, but this is not just a show, this is new creation shown to be “a people, a nation.”
Without getting into politics, God is forming a nation of God-made faithful folk right before Ezekiel’s eyes.
It is actually the same as a people who have heard the Good News of Easter, but just 50 days later is sounds like old news we’ve heard before and we want something more and wonder why we are frustrated, dying and afraid.
Hear the Good News
We are people of God’s remolding and forming. The steps are being taken to make a people who will not be just noisy rattles,
But a people who will put the pieces together and live the life most fully, the God connect, God breathed, God empowered life.
Take a deep spiritual breathe, be made new
Get up out of this field and go into the world,
He lives, and he lives in you and me.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. [NRSV]
From the Inside Out:
The View from the Insiders
We are blessed to have a beautiful place to gather and worship. It is important at times to look from at our environment from a different perspective. We come with personal and coorporate traditions and habits that make worship comfortable and meaningful for us. We find ourselves at home in God’s house.
The text today describes disciples at a time when it was not safe to go home. They were in hiding. There are times that we find ourselves so comfortable at home in God’s house that we are afraid to go out.
We living an a more segregated time than any other in our history. It is a separation by choice. We order things from online or through the mail. We are entertained by media delivered to our homes. Children play indoors more than outdoors. Some times we need to step outside. Go our and risk getting wet, take a chance of getting dirty. And find what and who God has created around us.
The disciples who gathered in their locked room found protection from sharing liked minds and common fears. If we only gather together with people who are like-minded who hold common fears we could be a political group instead of a force of faith and witness.
There is an slippery sense that if we protect each other and isolate one another then the outside world is not our worry nor our responsibility. In this place and experience of fear Jesus breaks through what appears to be locked up safe, to reach a people who are fooling themselves in a false and empty safety.
The View from the Outsiders
It is difficult to look at the church from an outsiders perspective. One of the reasons we have a combined worship is that we are two worshiping groups under one umbrella. There would be those who see our two worship service bodies as competitors. If they all came to our service we would have one big family. But that would not honor the fellowship and worship of the others.
Imagine your comfortable worship with robes, pipes and pews swapped with projects, shorts and amplified riffs. One is not right and the other wrong. But we are both at home under the same roof. I am the only one in my family that likes salmon croquets or country fired steak. So how often do I get to eat them? When everyone is out of town or we are eating out.
There are as many people who are not finding themselves at home in a church this morning as there are those who do. We living a county that has no Jewish Temple, No Muslim mosque and no Universalist reading room for gathering or worship. Our options are exclusively Christian churches.. and we still half our neighbors are outsiders when it comes to attending and belonging to a church. Why is that so?
For many they are afraid. Some feel locked out and excluded. Some don’t connect the meaning of the story with the power in their lives because they have seen the difference in our actions and words. Until we have asked every person, we don’t know that we have done our work in this place. And out task is not only within the bounds of our city or county or even country.
If we have access to transportation and communication that reaches around the world, so does our understanding of who the Outsiders we are called to reach.
Think if you have no church to call home. When would you leave the privacy of your home, to get more dressed up than you might do so for work or school, to listen to some strangers tell you that God wants your money and your life. Why would you go? Why would you come?
We are outside the doors today because this is when Jesus came to the world. To break through what was locked away in fear and impossibility, to open to those hurting and alone and make a way to God’s power and grace before we know how our why.
Inviting Insiders to reach out to the Outsiders
The reason Jesus breaks through the locked door is because we are not called to stay inside our place of comfort. There is a challenge in coming out. There is a faith in stepping beyond the threshold. Jesus called disciples to follow and once following sends them out as apostles.
Here is the following step in the life of being a disciples of Jesus. It starts in following Jesus, but once we become an insider Jesus breaks through to send us out into the world.
The world can be a threatening and disappointing place. It is understanding whey we would want to say in our comfortable place. So today we are moving outside, because in Jesus Christ, we now can. The world is our parish.
John Wesley’s vision for the church remains our vision. The 1000 member delegation of members and clergy will be gathering in Tampa this week to begin the process of examining how were are to living our our faith as United Methodist in the next four years.
You will hear of controversial reports of what the church is struggling with in the next two weeks. If you have questions listen to umc.org in stead of the local or national news. Pray for those who represent us in this process to hear God’s word and call in their actions and decisions.
The General conference always seeks to drag us into being a larger church that we currently are. Not just numerically rather in the task of reaching with a wider net those who have not heard and those who have even been harmed or neglected by the church.
Invited the Outsiders to be reached by Our Insider
But the resurrection call to disciples is not simply historic or corporate, it is our call to reach out side by the power of our INSIDE connection. The assurance of sharing Jesus Christ with the world and our neighbors. There is not a question, despite our fears, questions and apprehensions to share our faith. We are to share Jesus Christ, him crucified and resurrected.
We have come outside and broken through our comfortable inside to show the world what we believe. Show them our hands that they might see Christ’s hands at world. Show them where our feet go, that they might see how far Christ will go with them. Stand by their side and show them the work of Christ saving and caring them, just has Christ carries us.
We are outside or a reason and the reason is that we are no longer insiders.. We are insiders stepping out with Christ, for the redemption of the world. There is no turning back, no turning back.