Posts Tagged religion

1 Corinthians 1:18-24 Sharing Foolishness

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For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  [NRSV]

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

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

Blame: Because a few have been foolish

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

Foolishness and Wisdom

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

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

Our response

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

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

Perspective:

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

Remember:

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

Examples

Wise Acts of Foolishness

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

Foolish acts of Faithness

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

Home Work:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Dung Fly

Dung Fly

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

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

Listening to the Mob:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statistical Leanings

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

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

Jesus is making a distinction between name calling and relationship.

Relationship that is more than blood-kinship.

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

The Relationship of choice, a relationship that intentional.

Are you Christian in name our in faith?

Are you Christian in idea or practice?

Are you Christian by birth or choice?

Are you a Good Person by association or action?

Are you faithful to an idea or to God?

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

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

Intentional Spiritual Growth

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

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

So, Who’s side are you leaning toward:

God’s family or The family dynasty you determine.

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

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

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

Answer:

name calling doesn’t solve anything,

blaming might sound good but does not build relationships

not feeding your relationship leads to chaos…

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

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Mark 13.1-8 Nation Building RSUMC 20141109

Wailing Wall

As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV]

Building Blocks of the Temple

One of the most well known attractions in Jerusalem is the Western wall of the temple known as the Wailing Wall. It is not first named this for the prayers shared by the millions of visitors, rather because of a rare and miraculous occurrence of water weeping from the rocks. The last time this happen was over seventy years ago.

Over 60 feet is visible and above ground, but the larger portion of the wall is under ground and accessible by tunnels. The largest stone found in the wall is between 500-600 tons based on different measurements and estimations. It is considered the fourth largest carved stone in the world. If you cut it into pieces it could take almost 156 RAM Max Chassis Cab trucks at maximum capacity to carry the mass to the work place.

The super cranes of today lift 2000-3000 tons. But keep in mind 13 of the top super cranes around the world have been designed in the last six years. And even at their current designs require a minimum 400 foot boom and are situated 200 feet away from the object.  Large amounts of animal fat (pigs particularly) burns hot and fast and could be tunneled under the foundation and cause the swift destruction from the massive weight collapsing on itself.

The disciples are as amazed of the scope and size of the temple as every visitor to the temple mount is today. As long lasting as buildings appear to be, in one monsoon season, the pyramids would crumble. As a United Methodist Clergy person I have always struggled with forms that ask for my permanent address. I have since given up wondering and now know it is Ringgold, Georgia. Nothing is as solid and eternal I we act like things are.

Jesus gives a basic geology and architecture lesson: look around, all of this will crumble in time, even God’s physical temple. This is why we have a board of Trustee’s to make improvements and repairs to keep this a viable place to worship, fellowship, learn and share Jesus Christ. But as powerful and meaningful as this place it, this is not who we are.

Building Blocks of the Kingdom

Many will come to tear down your spirit.

Many will come to water down your passion.

Many things, people and circumstances will lead folks away from find this house as God’s house.

If you are going to choose what to build up, maintain and nurture: build the kingdom, no matter the temple.

One of the most powerful reports of mission teams that travel to foreign countries or rural parts of our own country is the powerful presence of the Spirit where there appears to be so little, where to physical needs are so great. It seems the Spiritual presence is seen more clearly and with more power and reality.

 

Destruction of the Temple

Think of the things that tear down our places of worship. There are those in churches around the world that have their building torn down because it is simply present in the community of our enemies.

Jesus was clear that war would come in the life time of the church. Just as the Romans came and destroyed the temple in 70 AD, during the lift time of early disciples. Wars surround and threaten us now. Is this the end? Are these the battles of the end of days? The easy thing to say is, “Yes.” I say yes, because it is a clear and present danger that motivates us to action. As compelling case that we might make that this is it, I suppose that folks said the same in on these grounds in the Battle of Chickamauga, World Wars, on the ground in Vietnam, and for forty years or more in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. There may be 100 years more of wars.

We look back and give thanks for those who have served us through times of war and in the face of war so that we can build back what is hopefully a better world and a better life.

Jesus does not belittle the reality of war, rather saying wars are not the most important sign, instead they are signs that what we treasure will most certainly be threatened and some will crumble. BUT don’t give up on building the relationship that will be eternal.

There will be lean times in the world, but not in the heart of God.

There will be earthquakes and times that very foundations of the earth will shift, crack and fall, but God will never fail.

If our church building were attacked at the hands of terrorist, we sit quietly by and keep the situation to ourselves. (a sarcastic, and foolish thought) We would be up in arms and have every person doing something about it.  We can keep the threat at bay, when it’s over the pond.

Eatonton UMC had the treasured story that their sanctuary was spared because it was used as hospital and barn for Union troops. But a hundred years later one arsonist set fire to that building. But the church was not destroyed. IN FACT, it was the transforming act that forced the congregation out of a rut of safety and protection into growth and a renewal of the mission to make disciples.

Endurance of the Kingdom

Jesus’ promise is the kingdom will endure.

If this is the end time, who has your heart and your back?

If this is only the beginning of years to come, who has your heart and your back?

Don’t worry about the end, Focus on the presence of God right now, right here.

Turn to your neighbor and remind them. This is God’s house, not my house, not your house. This is Jesus’ house. The Spirit is in this house.

Turn to another neighbor and remind them. God has your back just like mine. Jesus has my heart, does he have yours?

Turn to someone in front or behind you and remind them. What is leading you astray? What is crumbing in your spirit? For what do you weep and wail?

This is the conversation Jesus is having with disciples, just like us, just as then, Jesus is now..

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