Posts Tagged Witness

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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Luke 10.1-11 A Church on Tour 20160703

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After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!’  And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.  Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,  “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.‘ [NRSV]

Marching Orders

On this patriotic weekend, we come to a text calling for our marching orders.

The Lead Team of Followers

Jesus leads from a place of support. Jesus has our back.

The Promise of Failure

Think in terms of baseball instead of report cards. An average student receives a “C” letter grade for their work but an ordinary baseball player bats .250 for the season. A great player might bat .350, which means they only get a hit about one-third of the time.

Bringing the Kingdom Near

Being the body of Christ for the world becomes real when our presence reveals God’s presence in the world around us.
Of all the things we do, in our work of “being the church” is when we are a people sent to reveal God’s kingdom when and where are located.
TEST: Is my Jesus showing?
  • in my words
  • in my mind
  • in my heart
Is the kingdom of God what people hear, see, think and feel when they are with me?
If you are not sure, then ask
Complete the communication Circle

Expected Rejection and Failure

The instruction is to leave where we are not effective, but try first, do not assume.
The instruction is to try and stay until it’s time to go.

Living as Sent People

We have our orders
We have our ministry
We have our mission
We have our work
If we are not sharing the kingdom where we go, we are fleeing the battlefield, if we have given up then we are deserters.

The Homework:  Share hospitality, heal/fix what you can, and confirm why you are present and doing what you do: bringing the kingdom close to you. (Carpenters: Close to You.)

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Luke 19:28-44

PalmCross  As [Jesus] was going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it.’ “ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.
  As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop. He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
  As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” [NRSV]
The entrance into the holy city Jerusalem is akin to the presidential motorcade after the inauguration swearing in service. People lined the way, shoulder to shoulder, waving and cheering the confirmation of their new leader. But Jesus did not arrive in the usual way. Neither had he been endorsed by the Sadducees nor Pharisees. He entered riding on the back of a humble work animal instead of a proud steed of power and status. He was praised by the disciples, those who had been healed, fed, blessed and taught along the way of Jesus’s ministry. I make NO contemporary political correlation to candidates running today, only to the stress and strife of a non-establishment figure being ushered into the city by the voice of the people.
We may have more insight into the context of this event that other generations. The Pharisees saying, “If this Jesus becomes our leader, I’m leaving Jerusalem” The Sadducees saying, “If they don’t get a handle on this outsider, we will take steps to bring our own man in.” Do you get the scene and the tensions?
The establishment says, stop your people from this circus. Teacher, we hold you responsible for the chaos. It’s your fault. We will stop you if you don’t stop the unruly crowd. [Again, I am not suggestion that any of our political figures are messianic leaders, but I am listening to the similarities of the crowds and the commentators and voices of the establishments then and now.]
All this sets the stage for Palm Sunday. We would much rather look at the scenes of the children lining the streets waving along the Jesus parade as a sweet image of Palm Sunday and not see the emerging political unrest that blows up in less than a week. I believe it is vitally important to look at the politics that is very much part of the Palm Sunday story.
The sweetest fruit in this passage from Luke’s Gospel is about seeing and not seeing. It is about believing and refusing to believe. It is about choosing to accep or closing our eyes, “sticking our heads in the sand in times of fear”,
instead of proclaiming
  • Jesus Christ is real,
  • Jesus is King, and
  • Jesus is with us.
The secondary witness is about praise that cannot be held back.
  • When we know Jesus is real, this becomes the foundation of our life
  • When we know Jesus is King, this becomease the guide for our living
  • When we know Jesus is with us, nothing can stop us from praising.
So What is “Palm Sunday About?”
  • There story is about preparing for worship
  • The story is about making way/room for Jesus in our public/fears
  • The story is about remaing awake and aleart that it is Jesus that leads us and not anything or anyone esle.
Where does Peace come from? The Prince of Peace:
  • Peace does not come from armies and weapons
  • Peace does not come from governments and policies
  • Peace does not come from acts of kindness and justice
  • Peace comes from God, through Jesus Christ, guided by the Spirit, through the church, through us for for the whole world.
Palm Sunday is about seeking peace from God with us.
If we cant’ see God with us, we will never find Peace.
Peace in Syria?, in Instanbull?, in the media? in the streets of our nation? in our homes? in our hearts?
  • Peace comes when Jesus comes in.
  • Peace comes when Jesus is praised
  • Peaces is possible to see when we see God showing up on our streets.
We life our palm brances as signs of a
  • new life,
  • a new way
  • a new day, made possible thorugh Jesus Chirst, our King.
The Practice response..
Start with what we have: cloaks and branches and pave the way.
Start with our
  • Praise
  • Words
  • Witness of kindness
  • Forgiving first,
Loving even though others have not loved us first
  • Our hearts
  • Our gifts
  • Our time
  • Our presence
  • Our wintess
Use these to pave the way for Christ to enter our
  • hearts,
  • conversations,
  • homes,
  • streets,
  • communities,
  • nation and the world.
That means raise the praise in church but don’t stop there, don’t stop now,
LIft Christ… and let a hurting, hateful, fearful, broken world know Jesus is here.

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Psalm 84 Claiming A Place with God 20160207 RSUMC

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How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah (two of 74)

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you. [NRSV]

Text Notes:

A psalm, a hymn for worship, to be sung by the choir/praise team. Not a congregational hymn but more of a solo or at least for the choir, [psalm for *Korah]

Denote 2 of the 74 Selah references are in this one psalm/hymn.

 

VERSE 1

God’s Temple is our Refuge, heart’s home

Song begins remembering the temple/tabernacle is beautiful.

My heart longs to be there, my bones ache to sing for joy and know God is alive.

 

Secondly, God’s house is a place where everyone is welcomed. Even the least little bird (swallow) finds a home at the temple. Who wants the swallow? Bugs, mites, disease, messy? But God’s house has room for all of us.

Bottom line of verse one: People find God at the temple and love to worship when there are in the magnificent gates. Come and find God present in the sanctuary. The ornate nature of the space reminds us of God’s presence and our belonging.

SELAH, pause to praise, breathe and find God with us.

 

VERSE 2

Finding God outside the walls.

It makes us happy to know God is near, even when we are not in this place…

It is a blessing to know God is with us, even when we are not at church…

When you are at home or your place of safety, all is well. You make it through the day back to base, you can breath easy because you are thankful for all that is “home”.

 

Perspective is looking at the “place of comfort” when you are not there.

The Valley of Baca (Weeping)

Instead of focusing on the being lost, focus on the being at home, where you are.

 

Happy are those who know the way home. But what of those who have lost their way… those who don’t know where to turn? It can be a comfort, that even though we have gone astray, we know the way home, the way back. the GPS coordinates match up.

 

Those who know the Strength of the Lord, That’s Us.

 

BUT VERSE 3

WHEN ALL I HAVE IS A SHIELD

What about those who are outside or

those who have lost their way, or

those who have not heard?

 

Imagine hiding from the struggles, turmoil and threats in life, picture yourself out in the open, a shield is a protection but only on one side and the arrows are hurling in from every direction: money, hunger, rejection, fear, shame, sin, etc.

 

When we realize we are far from the walls of safety, belonging and peace.

A place between the House of God and the tents of wickedness.

Our place is between, bridging the gap.

Our Space is halfway in and halfway out.

 

Claiming Space in God

Dwelling Place

Happiness is : Content/at Peace/at one/ complete

Shield: temporary help, but we need to claim/reclaim temple life, when there is no temple.

Door Keepers: The greatest service is to be one of the choir members of Korahites, sing so someone will hear and find their way to God.

 

Happy are those who trust in God

God’s House has room for us all

Someone is living in the valley of weeping adversity

Our place is not in the temple, but out singing, knowing/remember the comfort of home, but reaching out to be shield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The admonition (advice) is to

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

2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?

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

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

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

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

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

Now Get to Work!

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John 20:19-31/2. Who or What Is Missing? 20150412 RSUMC

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Jesus Appears to His Disciples

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 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 side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas. Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]

Who is missing?

After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus went to Jerusalem, just as he said, to meet the disciples.

Judas was missing. Overwhelmed with regret and confusion takes his life and is missing from the circle. Given the events in the garden the disciples would have at least known why Judas might not show up.

Thomas was also missing. Where was Thomas? There is no mention of his absence at the first appearance of Jesus. Neither by Jesus nor the others, Thomas was absent.

What he afraid? Was he hiding? Had he given up? Did he not check his email or Facebook page or maybe his cell phone battery was not charged after a busy weekend. His absence goes un-noted for the moment.

This is one of the occurrences in the church that is just as true today as it was then. If we take a moment and look around at who is missing.

Some folks have recently died and we continue to grieve for the emptiness of their home going.

Others are ill and not physically able to be her or it is hazardous to their health or ours if the came to worship. Other have other limitations that keep them from being in this place.

Some are on vacation. Some are sleeping. Some are working. Some are accounted for, while others are missing, absence and not connected.

Which category did Thomas fit into?

Because we are so focused on our own worship, our own needs, and our own stuff, that we are looking to Jesus for all the help we can get. We make no note of who is missing.

So look around and see who is missing:

Not that we will take away a gold star, no demerits, no red ‘X’ by their name, but think back to last Sunday, where nearly 250 people gathered in this place and this morning, some of those are missing.

Still others were missing last week and like Thomas have come today. Thanks be to God that you are all hear.

Be know it is important that we have our shepherding ministry of paying attention to who is not hear, so that a week, or month , or a season does not go by and we not notice who is not in the fellowship, not in the circle.

Did you ever think Thomas was out evangelizing and telling the world about the resurrection? It is doubtful as he questions the resurrections when he has the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh.

Thomas want to see the evidence, the proof, the touch and hold the hands and side confirmation, that what Jesus said was true and real.

Here is Good News, Thomas shows up. And, when he shows up he wants to believe. He wants to see Jesus. Jesus wants him to have peace. Jesus wants him to believe. Jesus wants him to know the power and gift of the resurrection is for Thomas too.

Think about what Thomas is asking Jesus

  • Jesus who died for Thomas
  • Jesus who conquered death for Thomas
  • Jesus who rose from the dead for Thomas
  • Jesus who came looking for Thomas and Thomas was missing
  • Jesus who came looking for Thomas a second time is met by Thomas’s question and challenge.

..I will not believe unless I touch his hand / feel his side.

Despite any arrogance or ignorance: Jesus wants Thomas to believe.

Jesus is going the extra-mile of the extra-mile for the extra-stubborn folks like me… Praise the Lord!

SO Jump ahead to 2015

Jesus has been reveal to us in worship, Word, works of grace and service in his name. He STILL lives..

Why are their folks missing out?

Is there something missing the witness?

Here is a test question: Will your grandchildren (or that generation) know what your grandparents believed? That’s a five-generation spread of 100 years, @20 years.

We all know “WE” believe, but what about those who are missing what we cherish and treasure?

What if folks are looking at our hands and stand at our sides, do they see and touch Jesus when they are around us?

Is something missing?

  • Jesus Gives the disciples PEACE
  • Jesus Gives the disciples SPIRIT
  • Jesus Gives the disciples WORD
  • Jesus Gives the disciples Repeat Visits
  • Jesus Gives the disciples hands-on
  • Jesus Gives the disciples the Church
  • Jesus Give the Church the peace, spirit, word, presence, contact and life to share with the world that is missing from the table.

Do you know anyone who has seen the signs, but is missing the:

Peace, Spirit, Welcome, Presence and/or Christ in their daily living? Then you know what’s on your disciple’s to-do list this week.

Show the signs,

breathe the presence and spirit,

share the word,

ask and invite again,

Jesus lives for us and those who are missing.

Jesus is sending us to show the cross and it’s Good News

Jesus is resending us to live the life for the missing.

Who is missing? So get to work.

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

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

 

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

Discipleship is process of networking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

 

 

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Isaiah 40:1-8 Advent: “Preppers Unite!” RSUMC 20141130

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Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. [NRSV]

The Prophet Isaiah gives those who seek God’s presence words of encouragement as well as a reality-check about where to placed our faith.

This first Sunday of Advent we begin lighting candles. This is our sign, this is our symbol and logo for the season. There is a great presence of darkness all around us: Economic, Political, Geo-political, Racial and Cultural protests and looting, A woman killed three people in Denver to buying the last discounted TV at Walmart. The valuable has become trivial and the trivial takes on the value of greatest worth.

This prophet work is a call to make a way that prepares for God’s coming

Prepping: The ultimate Boy Scout exercise of being prepared. I will admit there are some items that I have more of than I used to keep around. I’m not a zombie apocalypse follower. But there seems to be some common sense in looking at the signs and seeing the need to prepare for things I can manage and control.

There is a fine line sometimes between having a few extra supplies, jugs of water and basic necessities and those who have bunkers, stock-piles and provisions for decades. Somewhere in between folks will say we are crazy, foolish or even delusional, while others will say we are foolish, crazy and delusional for not getting ready for a return to the 19th century way of life.

Here is a point of learning for each of us: At what sign, moment or circumstance would we change the focus of our regular way of leaving and prepare for Christ’s return. What would I need to experience in order to act most seriously and sincerely about preparing, not only my self, but others for the coming God Christ, God with us here and now?

In other words: how bad do things need to get before we see that we cannot fix world hunger?
How many acts of terror before we confront that the power of Evil is real and irrational.
How tough do our finances drop before we see we can’t buy nor save our way out of trillions of debt?
AND
How long do we allow people to build waves of doom and gloom before we look to God of strength, hope.
How long will we convince ourselves that we can manage any situation without God’s help
How long will we allow those around us to live, plan, lead and struggle managing the world around us without God’s help and allow them the political correctness, fairness and to-each-his-own theology?

The promise in Isaiah warning is that God will certainly put us into perspective, just like we through out old flowers that were once beautiful but are now dried and lifeless.

Jericho: Mt Temptation

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Isaiah call to action is to CRY OUT!
But what are we to call out? Who are we to Call out? What is it we are supposed to say? Answers: We will all fade, fail and died… so we best prepare for God’s stepping in our place.

Advent is this call to action: Remember God is God and we are the created. We are very smart, strong, and

This Advent is a time to speak up, speak out, Cry Out. Not so much to remind each other here, but for the rest of the world to know now is the time to make way for God.

“Swords ready? “On Guard! On Watch! Be Alert. Pay Attention. Look for God, for God is coming.

This get’s back to the prepping: If we live like the apocalypse is coming in 2015 then the majority of folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

If we are talking about Christ’s return and final victory coming this December 25 instead of Santa then folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

God is appearing every day. This is the real, reality.
Advent is not just a season prepping us for Christmas; it is the call to faith for each day and every season.

So I offer a balance: On one hand remember we are a fragile and delicate as a flower, think if power of a bacteria or virus, the sudden impact of a crash, the in hailing or injecting or ingesting of substances that end out live quickly as well as those that quietly tear us down.

On the other hand: God’s word is eternal. Ever strong and to be trusted.
Cry out for folks around us to ready, study, share, learn, open and press through God’s word.

How do we prep for God. Trust what is spoken of God. Have faith in God’s promise of grace and salvation.
Be on Guard to speak and share the word with everyone..

The road to heaven is paved with God’s intention. That we believe, trust and follow.
Not our intentions, God’s.

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Phil 2.1-11 Masked Savior Revealed RSUMC 20141026

MaskSmile 1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [NRSV]

The first halloween costume recall know about was odd. I was given a cat mask, a number one crew cut and a ankle length wool over coat and a cloth sack for the loot. It might have been appropriate for Oak Park, Chicago weather at the end of October, but the photos reflect a back-robber-in-the-making-look.  At ten or eleven I meticulously planned a vampire costume with a grandmother-custom-made cape, plastic teeth and fake blood and white face paint. The only reason I didn’t win the best costume in the class contest was Jennifer’s aunt was our teacher. Shenanigans, I called shenanigans! The last time I dress up I wore a rubber mask of a former political figure, where small children ran away from the house before grabbing any candy.

Halloween is one time that we wear costumes. Homecoming dances, weddings and school plays might come to mind. I suggested to you that we all wear masks and costumes in everyday living.

Scholar of Early New Testament community convey Paul uses words from a familiar hymn of the church to make is clear God is to be lifted up, believed and trusted because of the self revelation through Jesus Christ. This early hymn describes how Jesus had the mind and spirit of God but came incognito, hidden in the costume of a person. We have the unique opportunity to see the all seeing, invisible, God, always wise in human form through Jesus.

Typically we think wearing a costume is an activity of where we pretend something we are not. Just as in the movie, Let’s Be Cops, two roommates misunderstand the dress altair for a masquerade party and come in full police uniforms instead. They pretend in light of real world situations. Instead picture the young child who tries on their parents shirt or blouse is a shadow of the desire of who they will become.

One of the critiques of the church, by those outside the church, is that we are hypocritical. We talk about being good and right and righteous, but we are just as sinful and broken as the rest of the lot. There is truth in this assumption, but its a twisted glimpse. Even though we are sinful and fall short, we are becoming who God hopes and dreams we will become. This is a practice of living the life know reflect’s God we see in Jesus.

Paul wants to church, now and at Galatia to know, God is fully God, masked in Jesus, reveals the humility of taking the consequences of our sins and brokenness, Jesus takes the fault and blame for our mistake and failures. Jesus takes responsibility for our poor choices, exchanging all that is flawed as a life-gift, given through the cross. And this powerful gift is revealed and uncovered through the cross.

Jesus is not trying to hid the gift, not should we. There are Christians being persecuted, threatened and killed in Egypt, Northern Iraq, Palestine, Houston, Atlanta, and even in Gainesville, GA. When the cross comes near we’d rather find another way. We’d like to remember simpler and safer times.

Homework. Is to get our costume in order. Is the witness, image and presence I share with my family, community and world one that reflect Jesus or protects Jesus. Jesus needs no protection. We have God’s promise to be in and with us in all things, knowing that God desires for nothing to separate us from the love, power, grace and spirit of God. This is our confidence and witness. This is our praise and passion.

Homework applied: Plan to allow your self, your image, your dress, your personal, your influence, your countenance, your witness to reflect the present of the Spirit, the power of God and the grace of Jesus Christ. Or, just hid all that good God stuff and save it for next Sunday where we can let out little glimpse here where it is safe at church.

Bottom Line: You are going to reveal something to the world, will it be the Spirit? God? Jesus? the Body of Christ? or something, someone else?

Pray for the Church under attack in Houston: http://vimeo.com/109484294

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