Posts Tagged relationship

Faith Sharing: The conversation shared

Wesley’s fear

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

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

Salvation:

1. God has saved us in Christ

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

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

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

Accepting what God has done for humanity

Accepting what God has done for me

Accepting God help in becoming the person a God

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

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

Christian faith is uniquely personal

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

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

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

Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel

Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”

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

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

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

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

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

Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit

Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit

Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation

Start prayer,

pray with others,

pray for other,

read the prayers of others

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

Invitational statements….

Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you

Graceful faith Sharing

No law rules or formulas

Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs

Example 1)

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

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

1. They bring it up directly,

2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.

3. They want your personal instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John 20:19-31 NRS. “Be Believing” RSUMC 20160404

believeWhen it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [RSV]

Seeing is Believing

  • Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
  • Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
  • Understanding is the starting point

Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith

  • Faith is based in what we do not control
  • Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
  • Faith is Affirming what God provides

Faith is the Core

  • Faith is generally a process
  • Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
  • Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.

The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation

  • Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
  • Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
  • Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship

Commitment to the Relationship

  • Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
  • Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
  • Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
  • Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
  •  COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
    • Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
    • Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
    • Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
    • Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.

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Mark 3:20-35 “Whose side are you leaning?” Intentional Spiritual Growth, RSUMC 20150607

Dung Fly

Dung Fly

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

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

Listening to the Mob:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statistical Leanings

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

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

Jesus is making a distinction between name calling and relationship.

Relationship that is more than blood-kinship.

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

The Relationship of choice, a relationship that intentional.

Are you Christian in name our in faith?

Are you Christian in idea or practice?

Are you Christian by birth or choice?

Are you a Good Person by association or action?

Are you faithful to an idea or to God?

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

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

Intentional Spiritual Growth

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

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

So, Who’s side are you leaning toward:

God’s family or The family dynasty you determine.

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

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

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

Answer:

name calling doesn’t solve anything,

blaming might sound good but does not build relationships

not feeding your relationship leads to chaos…

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

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John 15.1-8 “Kudsu Christians: Fruity and Connected” RSUMC 20150503

KudsuJesus“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.[NRSV]

One summer when I was suppose to be cutting back the kudsu that was threatening to take over the driveway, I began marking how fast that vine grew in a week. It seems I would cut it back to the edge of the lawn and by next Saturday it would be time to trim the vine again. So I let it grow onto the drive where where I could mark it’s growth with marks of spray paint each day. In my experiment the vine grew five feet in one week. So I begin to micro-mearsure the vine by the day and hour. After a good rain and warm sunshine following I marked two inches of growth in one hour. AMAZING!

If only the church would grow at that same rate!

Jesus gives an object lesson of “vines and branches” to describe the relationship between himself and disciples like us.

  • God is the root system.
  • Jesus is a vine.
  • We are the leaves and the fruit.

Without the roots, there would be no vine and without the vine there would be no branch nor fruit.

Our shared purpose is fruit.

What is fruit of being connected to Jesus. Society has lost sight of Jesus because they don’t see the fruit.

Tom Cruse and Cuba Gooding Jr: as Jerry Maquire and Rod Tidwell in the movie “Jerry Maquire

[Rod has just told Jerry he will keep him as his agent]

  • Jerry Maguire: That’s, that’s great. I’m very… happy.
  • Rod Tidwell: Are you listenin’?
  • Jerry Maguire: Yes!
  • Rod Tidwell: That’s what I’m gonna do for you: God bless you, Jerry. But this is what you gonna do for me. You listenin’, Jerry?
  • Jerry Maguire: Yeah, what, what, what can I do for you, Rod? You just tell me what can I do for you?
  • Rod Tidwell: It’s a very personal, a very important thing. Hell, it’s a family motto. Are you ready, Jerry?
  • Jerry Maguire: I’m ready.
  • Rod Tidwell: I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money. Oh-ho-ho! SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! A-ha-ha! Jerry, doesn’t it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.
  • Jerry Maguire: Show you the money.
  • Rod Tidwell: Oh, no, no. You can do better than that, Jerry! I want you to say it with you, with meaning, brother! Hey, I got Bob Sugar on the other line; I bet you he can say it!
  • Jerry Maguire: Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Show you the money.
  • Rod Tidwell: No! Not show you! Show me the money!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Yeah! Louder!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Yes, but, brother, you got to yell that shit!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: I need to feel you, Jerry!
  • Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
  • Rod Tidwell: Jerry, you got to yell!
  • Jerry Maguire: [screaming] Show me the money! Show me the money!

The world is coming to our door step and asking us to show them Jesus. Show them God at work. Show them the fruit of being a believer and a disciples.

How do we show them the fruit?

  • Connected Through the vine of faith
  • Connected through Jesus
  • Connected through the word

When we are connected the fruit of the work from the ROOTS, through the VINE, is visible in the  BRANCHES.

  • We have little yellow buds on our tomato plants
  • We have little green balls on our blueberry bush
  • We have wild and crazy long vine on our raspberry bush
  • There are signs of things to come BUT THERE IS NO FRUIT.

Stay Connected and the God will supply what you need through JESUS for fruit to come through US.

What kind of fruit are you in the garden?

  • Some of your are prickly on the outside, but when the joy comes out, we all see the sweetness of God at work through you.
  • Some of you are running all around the place with great busyness but you
  • Some of you stay right where you are, and bloom where you are planted
  • Some of you are sweet and delicious, just kinda fruity.
  • Some of you are prolific, others are corny.
  • Some of you seedy but you trust Grace to make you wholesome
  • Some of you use to be connected and God has done great things in the past, but somewhere along the way we let go, stopped reading/studying/living in the Word and we are feeling crusty.
  • Sometime were are a combination, a tossed salad.

Here is the morning conversation in the mirror:

  • What will the folks around me see of God’s love today?
  • What will folks here that sounds like God’s grace this day?
  • What will people know about Jesus’ gift means to me during the next 18 hours?

What will keep me from bearing fruit?

  • What will disconnect me?
  • What will I do if I fall off the wagon? What will God do if I jump?
  • What will cloud things for me, and others?
  • What does God want?

I will be your vine, you be my branches, we will bear fruit together.

Bottom line: Prayers, Study, Fellowship, Real life sharing stuff with God’s fruity people…

  • This is what we need
  • This is what the world is hungry for fruit.
  • Feed the world… the love, grace, power and word of Jesus
  • And they will be grafted into the garden.

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Luke 24.36-48 “What’s For Lunch?” RSUMC 20150419

broiled_fishWhile they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself ! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. [NRSV]
Jesus is not just an idea, a theory, a collection of stories, Jesus was a real, person, human, like us: a spiritual being in a physical body.
  • Ideas don’t get hungry
  • theories don’t need to eat
  • collections of stories and moral teaches don’t need physical nourishment.
The resurrection Jesus is a physical person freed up, by the resurrection to affirm we are more than our bodies.
  • We are more than our physical needs
  • We are more than our material posessions
  • We are more than the health of these bodies
  • We are more than the suffering of this present age
  • We are Spiritual people, child of God, joint heirs, brother/sisters with Jesus, God’s people, God’s family.
Jesus continues to show the faithful the signs of the struggle and proof of the resurrection.
  • Jesus keeps showing up, directing us to OUR purpose.
  • We need the signs just like everyone else.
  • We need reminding and encouragement
  • We need Jesus to show us the same old story because our doubts and fears are real.
We need proof of the resurrection because we:
  • forget
  • let go
  • look away
  • taste other fruit
  • wrestle
  • break the commandments
  • are unfaithful individually AND collectively
  • THESE are the FAITH STRUGGLES in the OT, NT, and today.
The old testament is not to be forgotten, rather stands to say that Jesus is not an after-thought. But God has been at work since the beginning.. for our purpose, our foundation… our base..
Yes, it’s all about the base: the basis for God’s work of creation to this very day and beyond is LOVING RELATIONSHIP.

The base and foundation of our relationship is expressed in the Gracious give and take of

REPENTANCE: God loves us so much we know we can ask and God will forgive.

FORGIVENESS: God loves us so much, when we ask, God sees our change of heart and forgives.

We mess us… See list above… and offers of Forgiveness when we repent, turn around.

of repentance and forgiveness. The corrective and creative renew of relationship.
RESURRECTION PEOPLE can turn around, 180 degree.
In the power of Jesus Christ our lives can turn around,
God gives us the power to change, the freedom to choose, no matter what world, family, politics, etc. We can choose to follow God,
So do a 180, eat lunch and get to work sharing the signs the Christ is living in you.

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11 “Save A Life” RSUMC 20150405 Easter Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]

My Task is to Remind You about Jesus

  • Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
  • God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
  • God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
  • God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
  • God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.

You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.

  • A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
  • When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
  • Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
  • (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)

Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. 

I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery

Did you know in thsmokealarme National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.

Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.

On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.

When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes

When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.

What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?

-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.

How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…

How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.

Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.

CHRIST died for a purpose: to take the blame for our broken heart with God. jake_Blues_grace.jpg

  • GOD knows us:
  • we forget,
  • mess up,
  • get in a jam,
  • fall off the wagon,
  • the dog eats our homework,
  • the car breaks down,
  • we loose our job,
  • we forget to study,
  • we miss the deadline,
  • we get distracted
  • and tempted…
  • we sin, big ones and little ones,
  • we drift or run..

God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.

  • I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
    • I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
  • I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
    • I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given  you.
  • God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
  • God’s grace is not an after thought…
    • along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
  • God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
  • God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
  • God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.

This is what Easter message is about.  

  • It’s not just about Jesus,
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
  • Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
  • Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.

So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus… 

  • I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
  • I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
  • I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
  • I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
  • I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
  • I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
  • I hear Jesus in your music and singing
  • I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
  • I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
  • I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
  • He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.

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Ephesians 2.1-10 “Saved by Grace” RSUMC 201503015

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

  1. Before you found salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step you through… Tab A into Slot B:

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

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

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

Licensed to Catch

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

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

Catching Fish

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

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

Successful Fishing

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

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

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

A Failure at Fishing

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

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

Luxury of Catch and Release

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

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

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

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

Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.

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

Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.

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

Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person

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

Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES

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

Jesus continues to call disciples

Look to the persons on either side:

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

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

The ADVENTURE is ours,

we never graduate,

we never retire,

we may have weary, uncertain times, but

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

Let’s go fishing

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

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

I’m up for the ADVENTURE!

I have a story to SHARE!

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

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John 4:5-42 Dehydration JUMC 20140323

dehydration

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
[NRSV]

Combating Daily Dehydration

Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated

In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking

The Woman says:

I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking

The Woman Sees more than the water and work:

The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.

The Shift comes in being known and being loved.

Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.

The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.

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Isaiah 58.1-12 “Repair the Streets” JUMC 20140209

watching road repairsShout 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]

Intro
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.

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