Archive for October, 2019

Second Base: Home Run Life Series

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on October 26, 2019

How do you get in scoring position?

Batten Joyner of Vets Pets stands on second base after hitting a stand-up double in a recent Wilson City Little League ages 7-8 Single-A League at Gillette Baseball Complex. WCLL

Any coach will tell you that when on Second, the next hit is a potential run.

Catch up / Review: To have a home run life there is a pattern God uses: Romans

  • Home —  Connecting with God
  • First —   Character – win within
  • Second — Community – Win with people
  • Third — Competence, Results
  • Begins and ends with God

THE ORDER MATTERS

  • The world runs backward
  • When we run for results first, we cheat ourselves, relationships and God.
  • We think we don’t have time for the long way
  • Running backward, we get thrown out

Second Base:  Scoring position, the relationship of Character and Community

PRINCIPLE: Figures out what counts on the last day, so that you know to count every day.

a. Your last day on earth is your first in heaven. What is going to matter in heaven. — live like you know you will be in heaven.

b. Learn from the places of perspective. Second base sits before the performance, it is a place of perspective. Is 6.49 40-     James 4:14

c. God is great I am not

d. Stuff is temporary, souls are eternal

e. Only two things that last forever:    God’s word and  People

f. We love people and use things, NOT use people and love things

             CHARLIE BROWN.. I love the world it’s the people

SECOND BASE SKILLS FOR OUR RELATIONSHIPS

follow God’s example, walk in the way of love — second base

just as Christ loved us, just as he gave himself for us…

SKILLS to love as God loves

  1. keep your word —- connect the character God makes in your relationships.
  2. Keep your calendar aligned with your relationships.  — make the time
  3. Keep Short Accounts  – learn to forgive
  • You forgive what you cannot fix and
  • let God do the rest
  • have to love as God loves
  • when you get a raw deal, deal with it right
  • Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Before we turn the corner on third, take the standing double perspective to see through the relationships, as people of God’s Character, what matters are the people and God’s word, and when we love as God loves we are prepared to produce God’s fruit.Advertisements

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Romans 12:1-2 From Home to First: Home Run Life Series

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on October 12, 2019

What is your on-base percentage?

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [NRSA]

Recap of the Home Run Life

Connect, Character, Community, Competence

  • The pattern God uses to grow us.
  • Know you know what God is doing
  • The world starts backward

How do you get on base to get the Home Run life?

  • Get to God’s purpose with God’s power
  • First God wants to change you, Character, personal base, win within
  • Second base, Community, where you win with others
  • Third Base, competence, performance, results, success in life, true success

The pattern

Rom 12:1-2, offer yourself as living sacrifices, no longer conform to the pattern of this world

  • God’s pattern is clockwise, God wise
  • The World’s pattern is counter, backwards, 
  • We run toward performance

That is CHEATING

  • relationship
  • character
  • God
  • and self

YOU GET THROWN OUT before we get to first.

“Too busy to be in bible, worship, sun, small group, prayer, etc..

Home plate to First base?

  • a third of batters Strikeout
  • The next third, get thrown out before getting first base
  • The Earlier we get this the better we are off in life.
  1. Things to know
    1. IN the Vine, is the power to win within, When I drift from the vine, I drift into vice.
    2. There is a flow of power, that moves from the main vine, which powers the branch for the fruit
      1. You have a power not available anywhere else
      2. If you live disconnected from God’s power your only power is vice.
      3. You can have to power to connect how you can nowhere else
      4. STAY connected
        1. When we get a spiritual high, we get comfortable, we begin to believe its OUR power
        2. We return to the old self, It was always God’s Power
        3. IF I DRIFT from the VINE I return to the old VICES.
    3. Lamp. I am the socket, you are the cord, and you will light the world through me.
    4. (NEED A LAMP AND POWER CORD)
  2. Things to do

Three major swings

  1. Live for the Truth
    1. IF someone says, there is no absolute truth, its all contextual. That statement is an absolute assumption and thus a contradiction
    2. Consequences of not seeking the Truth
    3. Father in heaven longs for us to know GOD’s Truth
    4. STORY: Father/Son   Home Run dad, finally lesson to learn about outs, rules, when the father reminds rules, warns and then tags out between 2 and 3rd, son keeps running home and slides… “home Run Dad. No, you’re out. No, it’s my ball, my bat, may bases, and I say it’s a homer.”  (not the truth)
    5. If we continue living by our rules and the world’s rules then were already out before we go to bat. 
  2. PLUG INTO THE VINE
    1. We can make things too complicated
    2. Agricultural example  We see grapes they are connected to a vine through the branch.
    3. Electrical Example. PLUG in, Light up,  you have light for your life
      1. if you disconnect you are in the dark.

1st Base is connecting to God through Character-building activities

  1. Worship,
  2. Study
  3. Prayer
  4. Fellowship
  5. Small-Group

<example of being stuck in the car shut down…  Drive-thru at McDonald’s, WHAT IF SOMETHING IS DISCONNECTED>

Look at all the places that frustrate and 

it couldn’t be as simple as being plugged into God or unplugged from God

CHAPTER 5 in the book, (if you don’t have it get it, if you have it read it and share it.)

What does it mean for you to be in GOD’s WORD

  • Work at it
  • and reset your expectation

How do you get into God’s word

  • Have a time in God’s work or in prayer
  • if you don’t break through you are not connected

SO GO get to work, wrestle it down

  • REMAIN IN the VINE
  • STAY CONNECTED

God wants to take us, that only God can take us.

We need to reconnect.

God wants to go to FIRST BASE CHARACTER

  1. DRAW THE LINK

When you are living for truth and stay connected to the vine

God will reveal where sin is.. God will draw a line, to free you up to get on base.

This is how much God loves you

Acknowledge the lines and trust God, stay connected, yield

Romans 6  WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US

6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. [NRSA]

We are dead to sin and alive to Christ

Vs. 6  Old self is dead to sin, so we are no longer dead to sin, since Jesus has conquered to live in Christ Jesus

Do not let sin reign 

vs 14 sin will no longer be your sin

vs 17  Thanks be to God you used to be slaves you now have allegiance to God, slaves to righteousness

Easy sins may go quickly but there are likely one or two, in your neighbor.. .haha

confession time

FEAR – Fear of rejection, failure, disappointment, approval, financial fear

LUST – want for food, material things, physical desires, success wealth, 

WORRY –  what I have given up before even trying for the power of worry.

a longing to indulge without moderation

Romans 6 is true

\a consistent connection is essential to get to first base, to not be lost to sin, to be out, to be disconnected

GOD conquers sin, but we have to remain in the vine, connected.

None of us is perfect, RIGHT?

we can all be tempted

I can make errors

PRO’s still make errors, look at the bloopers TAPE

<Blooper videos>

Frustrating, WE DROP the ball spiritually

We don’t have to be owned by sin

FEAR, LUST, WORRY are mine,

What are you three?

What is the one that Keeps getting you thrown out?

A Sacred moment, 

surrender to break the cycle of sin in your life

Card: NO NAMES, No copying? No peeking? 

What is the thing that is costing you from getting close to God?

Give it as a sin offering

  • Temper
  • lust
  • worry
  • gossip
  • slander
  • criticalness
  • bitterness
  • grief
  • drunkenness
  • addictions
  • adultery
  • porn
  • Fear
  • Pray over, break the cycle of sin… 

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Home Run Life Week 1

Posted by myoikos in #2019#Spritualgrowth on October 3, 2019

12Stone Church Kevin Myers Series: Home Run Life
Home Run Life – Week 1 Genesis 37-50; Romans 12 Original Sermon link Edited to be used by Rock Spring UMC Study Series

A Sermon and Study Series for RSUMC, come join the game.

Welcome to Home Run Life – Week 1. I am so excited to share in this series with you. Let’s just dive in. Let’s play ball.

On the back of your bulletin, you will find teaching notes and four questions that can transform your life. The first question is…

1. What makes for a home run life? In other words, everybody wants a home run life.

Everybody wants that kind of experience in the whole of their life. The question is what are the elements that make up for a great life? I’m glad you asked. Here’s what I think is the first one, obvious to all of us. I think the first element is a success. See, when we’re young and we dream about our lives, we dream about a job, financial, business, sports, career success. That’s why I love the Super Bowl XXXIII commercial by monster.com. It captures the essence of this. You’ll enjoy it. It’s one of my favorites. Check it out.

[Video]

  • Boy: When I grow up, I want to file all day.
  • Boy: I want to claw my way up to middle management.
  • Girl: …be replaced on a whim.
  • Boy: I want to be a yes-man.
  • Girl: …yes-woman.
  • Girl: “Yes, sir.” “Coming, sir.”
  • Boy: “Anything for a raise, sir.”
  • Girl: When I grow up…
  • Boy: When I grow up…
  • Boy: I want to be underappreciated.
  • Girl: …be paid less for doing the same job.
  • Boy: I want to be forced into early retirement. [End of video]

That’s just funny. That is backhanded sarcasm, isn’t it? I mean, nobody really aspires when they’re young, “Oh, I hope I grow up and accomplish small things. I hope I grow up and a strikeout.” No! No, when you imagine the life you long for, you imagine success. But hear me.

Success is too small to make up the whole of a life dream.

In fact, you may start with success, but that’s not the end. Whether you’ve ever thought about it or not, when you dreamed of the life you had longed for, you imagined it would have someone. You imagined it would have…what? Someone. It’s “someones.” Someone was involved in that dream, that hope for a dream life.

Whether it was coworkers or teammates, close friends… Maybe it was that soulmate. You longed someday to get married, hoped for kids, the beauty of family. See, there was always this someone because success without someone is hollow.

Let me illustrate with a golf joke. Are there any golfers here across the campuses? Are there any golfers? Let yourself be known. All right. Then you’ll appreciate this. There was this pastor who

loved to golf. It was driving him nuts because every Sunday was sunny and gorgeous and every day off was rainy. See, he had been brought up in that tradition where you can’t golf on Sunday. That would be wrong. That would be a sin. He could never golf on Sunday, and it was ticking him off. I mean, this was happening every week. Finally, he just said, “God, I can’t take it anymore! I want to do the wrong thing.” He made the phone call, and he said, “I’m not going to be in this weekend.” He told the assistant pastor to preach for him. He left on that Sunday morning and drove two or three counties away so nobody would know him. He got on the golf course. Just like every other Sunday, it was sunny. It was gorgeous. It was beautiful. He got on the first tee and said, “I know this is going to be miserable, God. I know you’re not going to help me, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m playing golf.” He hit the first drive: 275-300 yards (it blew his mind) down the center. I mean, he parred the first hole. He was out of his mind. He had the best game of his life. He got to the last hole. He hit the ball, and it was a hole-in-one…every golfer’s dream! He was out of his mind. He was dancing on the green. He was like, “God, I thought you would make this miserable for me.” God said, “I did!” “What do you mean?” “Who are you going to tell?”

Success all alone is empty. Success without the “someones” is diminished joy. See, when you dreamed of your life, you not only imagined you would have success; you dreamed there would be the people you love and the people who love you. That’s not all you ever dreamed. If you’ve never thought about it, you also dreamed of self-respect. See, you imagined you would be able to look into the mirror and respect the person you see in the mirror without dropping your eyes in disgrace. You imagined a person who could rise up with self-leadership who would not be owned by pleasures and passions and addictions, a person with integrity. See, wherever you go, there you are. If you can’t respect the person you are, it’s a pretty miserable life. Maybe you never thought about it before, but you not only imagined life of success and someone and self-respect. It’s not over. You imagined significance. What did you imagine? You dreamed your life dream would lead to significance, that your life would make a difference.

You imagined it would count for what matters, not just that you would have empty success, not just to make a dollar but to make a difference. Now that’s a great life. That’s a great dream. That’s a success in someone, self-respect, and significance. That’s a home run life. Everybody longs for that. Those are the elements in it, but very few people actually get that life. In fact, most of us get one or two of those things and crash on the rest.

That was the experience for Luis Ramos who, over a decade ago, was sitting in a place just like you here and I was delivering the first kind of testing seasons of Home Run Life. Here’s a slice of his story. [Video]

Luis Ramos: My name is Luis Ramos, and I’m 44 years old. I’ve been married to my high-school sweetheart for almost 25 years. You know, I find myself in one place in business and family and relationships that, thank God, today is really great and very fulfilling. It wasn’t always that way, however.

I had made my life about having more, getting more, making more, and achieving more. Everything else was falling apart around me. My marriage was falling apart. I barely knew my children. I told myself it was for everybody else, so I said, “I’m doing this for my family. I’m going to make sure I set us up for a great life.” That’s nonsense. It’s not true. I really loved the feeling I got from success. It was addictive. I just needed a clean break and to start all over.

I told my wife I had made a mistake, and we were really not meant to be together. On a Sunday in early October, my wife was going to church with the kids. I decided to join them really to keep up appearances. It just so happened it was the first day of a multi-week series on the Home Run Life. I sat there, and I was intrigued by the production, but what really caught me was Kevin starting to tell the Home Run Life story, the parable. [End of video]

Like Luis, most of us get one or two elements in our life dream, and then we crash in the rest. Maybe that’s because nobody has ever taught us how God grows us up. In fact, that brings us to

the second question of four questions that can transform your life.

2. What can we learn from Joseph’s journey?

For our limited time, let me highlight from Genesis 37-50 in the Old Testament the story of Joseph. I’ll pick highlights. I’ll pick out kind of breakthrough moments in his life to put this together. Joseph was 17 years old when he had a dream. It was a dream about his future. It was literally a vision from God.

Now Joseph was the son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, the great-grandson of Abraham. He was in the line of God’s great promises. His father, Jacob, was highly influential, very affluent. Joseph was a favored son. He had many older brothers. In fact, by the end of the story, you discover his older brothers and he together made up eventually what’s called the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. The name of his father Jacob was changed to Israel. That’s where Israel gets the name.

Back at this time, he is 17 years old. He is a favored son, and he has what Scripture calls a “coat of many colors,” which means he is important. Dad gave it to him. He is kind of bragging. See,

this is ticking his brothers off. They’re full of jealousy, and Joseph is walking around in his coat, strutting like he is somebody.

Then he not only acts like he is important to his earthly father, but also he is like, “I don’t know what to say, guys. I’m obviously important to Dad, and I’m obviously more important to God

because I had a vision. Did anybody get a vision? No? Nobody else? I had one. Guess what? In the vision, I’m standing, and you’re bowing. Isn’t that an awesome vision, guys?” Nobody was excited. By the way, nobody gets excited when your vision is you’re standing and they’re bowing. Joseph had every reason to believe this was going to come about, this would happen. Why? Because God was in it. In fact, we often quote promises of God. We’ll jump into the New Testament like John 10:10 where Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.”

Then we expect the very next thing when we come to a relationship with God through Jesus is life is now going to be easy and awesome. Joseph was probably expecting the next thing to be a success. The next thing was a pit. He got thrown into a pit. His brothers got tired of this, so they literally threw him down into a pit. They took his coat of many colors. They cut it up so it looked like an animal tore it up. They put ram’s blood on it, took it back to Dad, and said, “Dad, it looks like Joseph went bye-bye.”

Of course, those were pre-DNA days. You could figure that out today, but not back in the day. Now they take him from the pit, and they sell him into slavery. Off he goes to Egypt. His father assumes he is dead, and nobody comes to rescue him. Joseph has to be asking himself, “God, what on earth are you doing?”

Have you ever asked that of God? Have you ever just said, “God, I’m trying to follow you. What on earth are you allowing in my life?”

[Kevin Myers] was 30 years old, 9 years into [his] marriage. It was one of the most undoing years in [his] life when [he] had to sit down with [his] wife and ask her to go back to work. Now understand [they had] married for nine years. For the first five years, there was some good ministry stuff. For the last four years, [they] were planting 12Stone. [They] said, “Once we have a couple of kids, you get to be a full-time mom.” We had a couple of kids, but [he] had to ask her to go back to work because [he] was failing in [his] work. [They] had lost [their] house money. Some of you have heard these stories. [They] had lost cars and savings and a little IRA stuff and everything [they] had. [They] were going bankrupt. [They were] doing odd jobs and everything [they] knew to do. It was like, “Honey, if you don’t go back to work, we’re done.” I’m in this pit, and I’m like, “Hello, God! What are you doing when you let this happen?” [He] didn’t know then, but [now he] can tell you now what [he] thinks God was doing. God was helping [them] win dependence.

In fact, many of you may find yourself in pits you didn’t create, and God has allowed them to come your way. You’re like, “God, what are you doing? [We] expect it to be easy and awesome.”

Maybe God is doing the same thing. That’s God was doing with Joseph. Watch this. He was helping Joseph win dependence.

God was stripping Joseph of everything he would have used to make this dream possible so he could move Joseph from self-reliance to God-reliance. Oh, that’s a major move! See, many of us never grow up spiritually because nobody ever told us how you grow up spiritually. We know how you grow up humanly. We don’t know how you grow up spiritually. Let me just give you a quick understanding of it.

Here’s how you grow up humanly. You move from dependence to independence. Let me talk for a moment. How many of you here have children under 5 years of age? Hands up. You have children under 5 years of age. There you go. You see the hands. They’re adorable, right? You’re just drawn to them. You’re endeared. Through their elementary years, you cannot imagine them ever leaving. Then God makes them teenagers. Now you cannot imagine them staying. See, that’s a process.

You start out. They’re wholly dependent on you. Then they’re progressively moving from dependence to…what? Independence. Spiritual growth is the opposite. This is how you grow up spiritually.

You are born in sin, separated from God, distant from God. You think you’re your own god. You’re independent and independent from God you begin to grow and be drawn to God.

You discover God loves you and, through Jesus, he made a way for you to be restored to him.

You come to faith through Jesus, and your entire journey is to move you from independence to what, church? Dependence. Oh, this is a deep and wide reality. Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine. You are the branch. If a man or woman remains in me, you will bear much fruit. But apart from me, you can do nothing.” Learn to depend. It takes a lifetime.

The second breakthrough in Joseph’s life was to win within. See, his second major breakthrough, the next one, was to win within.

He had a major temptation. See, now he was bought by Potiphar. At the age of 17, he was taken to Egypt and bought by Potiphar who was highly influential in the military arena of Egypt. He had been there, for now, five to seven years. He was probably 22 to 25 years old. He had risen up as a slave (how exciting is that?), overseeing the household affairs of his master, Potiphar, and his wife.

Potiphar’s wife made an indecent proposal, a sexual advance, engaged an affair. At that moment, he had to decide, “What kind of person am I going to be?” We all have to make that decision.

“What’s the moral code? Do I follow God or create my own?” See, Joseph couldn’t help that he was a slave on the outside, but he didn’t have to be a slave on the inside to his passions, his appetites, or his desires. He could be a man of integrity, and he made the right decision.

Oh, by the way, for making the right decision, do you know what happened? He got thrown in prison. Isn’t that awesome? “Yay, God! I did the right thing, and I lost.” See, Potiphar’s wife said he actually did initiate and rape her, and Potiphar threw him into prison. Have you ever done the right thing and took a loss instead of a win? Oh, but God is not done.

The next major breakthrough is a win with others. Get in the story with me for a moment. Just everybody here, campuses, go with me on this. Now Joseph is the servant. He is a slave. He is the guy on his hands and knees. He is cleaning the floor. While he is doing that in Egypt, very important people are walking by, and they don’t even notice him. They just dismiss him.

Maybe that’s when Joseph discovered, “You know, I used to be important. I used to walk around my Dad’s place in my coat of many colors. I was somebody. Equally, there used to be people doing just what I’m doing…servants I never noticed.” Maybe God had him in that place to teach him how to value others. Because hear me. There are few things more redefining than when God puts you in the place of people you once dismissed. Maybe then Joseph realized, “I kind of helped put myself in this place. I dismissed my brothers and their issues, their needs.”

Between the ages of 21 and 25, [in his] first ministry experience was [Kevin Myers] was the associate pastor of a church that had tremendous growth. It was the fastest-growing in our little denomination and in that territory. [He] began to feel self-important. During that time, [he] subtly began to think differently toward pastors who led smaller churches. [he] started to think, “Do you know what? If those guys would just put a little effort in, it would work.” [he] subtly dismissed.

When [he] planted [his church new church,] “12Stone,” [they] had 104 people on the opening weekend. Four years later, [they] had

82 ([He was] just that good…yeah, yeah) during which season God whispers in [his] ear, “Now, Kevin, let’s talk again about pastors who lead smaller churches.” See, that’s how we learned that if you don’t value others, you use others.

Maybe God has you in some places just like this where you’re down on your knees, and you don’t want to be. You’re in some places in work or in life and relationship, and you’re begging for God to lift you up when God is trying to teach you how to win with others and value others.

By the way, we know Joseph broke through. Do you know how we know? Because fast-forward. When he was 39 years old, which is 22 years after they sold him into slavery… His brothers sold him into slavery at 17. Quick story. At 39 years old, he was already second in command in all of Egypt. There was a famine going on, and during the famine, guess what? A group of guys who were starving came there. They were his brothers. Guess who they had to kneel before in order to get food? This is such a good story!

They had to kneel in front of Joseph. The dream! Here his brothers are kneeling. He is standing. How well did that moment have to be for him? All he had to do was just wave his hand, and they would be executed. Instead, he executed mercy and forgiveness. That’s a changed, transformed man.

The next major breakthrough was to win results. Oh, this is huge! God helped him win results. Fast-forward. He was from 17 to 30… At 30 years of age, he had been in pits and prisons for 13 years. Pharaoh has a dream. The dream is from God. It’s a vision. He can’t interpret it himself, and neither can anybody else. Then they say, “Oh, there’s this guy Joseph who can interpret dreams.” They bring Joseph up. He faces Pharaoh. I mean, this is the most powerful guy in all the earth in his time and day. Pharaoh says, “I’ve had a dream. Can you interpret it?” Joseph says, “No.”

If I were coaching him, I would say, “Joseph, the answer is yes. Yes, Joseph. If you get a shot at a new job, the answer is, ‘Yes, I can do this.’ What are you going to lose? I mean, if you lose, if you fail, you just go back to prison. Come on. That’s where you are! If you lose your head, it’s better. You die. You just don’t have to go to prison. This is a shot for a promotion. Take it!”

Joseph was a changed man. I want you to see this. Do you know what he said? “No, I cannot, but if God wants to give it to me, he can.” This is somebody who figured out even in business God is a part of the process, and he was dependent on God. That’s good.

God did give him the interpretation, and he explained it to Pharaoh. There would be seven years of feast and seven years of famine. Then more than giving the problem, he delivered the solution. “Pharaoh, you should have someone manage the seven years of feast and put food away so, during the seven years of famine, Egypt survives.” Pharaoh looks around and says, “I don’t see anybody smarter than you, Joseph.

You get the job.” He elevated him to second in command in all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. In one day, he went from prison to the palace. That’s a very good promotion day, wouldn’t you say? I mean, that’s the kind of day everybody is looking for in business.

It’s like, “Whew! How did you…? Tremendous.” You would think, “Oh, my gracious. That’s such success. That’s the pinnacle of his life.” It was not.

Pinnacle is when he moved from success to significance. He figured out with the coming of his brothers that his family was starving, and he said, “What you meant for bad, God meant for good, for the saving of many lives.” He brought the whole family (his father Jacob, all the families) and saved them. This is the nation of Israel through whom eventually comes the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

How significant is that? It begs the next question, number three of the four questions that can transform your life.

3. What is the pattern? With all of that, how does God really grow us up?

What is God’s game plan for life and leadership? When Joshua, [Kevin’s] eldest son, was 11 years old, [dad] had an awakening. Honestly, a confession. [He gives it to us.] [He] realized, “Even though he is a pastor, He didn’t know how to disciple his son.”

[Kevin] came to Christ at age 9. [He had] been in church ever since. [He went] to Bible school. [He had] a ministry degree at a university. [He’d] been to seminary. [He’d] been pastoring full-time. He realized, “I don’t even know how to disciple my son.”

Now it’s not that he doesn’t have the information. All the information in his head is all complex, but he didn’t know how to get it out and get it into something.

How would he transfer it so his 11-year-old son can know how God is going to grow him up. How to do it in an easy, transferrable, significant, meaningful way that will connect when you’re young and travel with you into your adult life. [he] was stumped. See, this whole Home Run Life thing was actually birthed from the heart of a father who wanted to help his son win.

That’s where the whole baseball thing came from, something that was accessible to a kid but could travel into adult life and even challenge pro athletes in a multi-billion dollar industry..

..There was this pattern. That word pattern became hugely important. Take your Bibles here. We’re in the book of Romans, chapter 12. This is the core Scripture God was soaking into [his] soul in this season. We don’t have time to detail everything, but I can tell you this. When it says, “Therefore…” what he is talking about is after all the theology, after all the teaching, after all, God has done to restore you to him through Jesus, now here’s the point, practically speaking.

Chapter 12, verse 1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Verse 2: “Do not conform…” Do not…what? Conform. Don’t do this. You can’t do this. “Do not conform to the…” There’s the word.

Say it with me, church. “…pattern…”

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world…” So there’s a pattern to the world. He goes on. “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” You have to see things differently. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Oh my! There is a pattern God uses. This pattern God uses grows us up, but there’s a pattern of the world.

[Kevin] started to think, “Well, baseball has a pattern. What if what is true in life dreams is true in God’s design?” There are four bases everybody has to cover. It’s true in baseball when you’re young, and it’s true when you’re in the major league. It’s not like there are seven bases in the major league.

There are four bases. The only way you can score is when you cross… Humor me. What’s the answer? You always have to cross…what? Home plate.

In fact, when you leave home plate, you have to cover…what? First, second, and third base. This is what we know about baseball.

It’s really simple. If you miss a base, you’re called…what? Out.

Baseball is full of fresh starts. Many strikeouts but fresh starts. What do they call it when you run to the wrong base? Little league.

That’s the only time it’s funny. When a 4-year-old hits the ball and runs to third base, everybody is like laughing. “That’s awesome!” It’s not so funny when a major league player does it, because then he is called out.

By the way, that’s true in life. There is a pattern, and it’s as simple as baseball in how God grows you up. If you look at your teaching notes, here’s your fill-in-the-blank. Home plate. Home plate is where you connect. That is to say you connect to your Creator. I mean, we’re not just talking anybody.

We’re talking about the Creator of the universe, where you connect to God’s purpose for putting you here and God’s power to pull it off. Oh my goodness, this is huge! See, everything begins and ends at home plate. Everything begins and ends with God. It doesn’t start with you. It starts with God.

Just like when you come to the plate, you have to know your purpose, what you’re there to accomplish, and you need power at the plate, so it’s true in life. By the way, many of you listening are spiritually unresolved. You’re not even sure you believe in God.

You’re not sure you’re buying any of this. It’s okay. This is still your issue. Listen. It’s still your issue. You have to settle in life, “Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?” You’re living out that answer, whether you answered it or not…if not by design, by default.

The God who created you, who loves you deeply, who created a way for you to be restored to him through Jesus, is inviting you to connect. When you become the god of your life and make it start and end with you, of course it doesn’t work. You are not. When God comes into your life and you connect with him, the very first thing the power of God wants to do is take you to first base and change you.

It is called character. Home plate is ‘connect,’ and first base is ‘character.’ That’s the personal base. It’s how you win within. What often happens is when we come to faith in God through Jesus

Christ and we become followers of Christ… Do you know what happens in our souls? Oh, we get so excited. We know we can pray and God answers our prayer. Oh, this is so cool.

Do you know what we start praying? “Oh God, change everything else.” Right? “Now I got God. Change everything around me. Oh God, change my relationship with my job. Change my income, it is yours. It needs to go up for you. I need less. Change my boss’s heart. Change my spouse’s heart. I had no idea how much baggage we both had when we married. Oh God, change my kids. They have so much of my spouse in them. [haha] Who knew? God, change my house and change my stuff.”

Do you know what? We think the moment you get in a relationship with God, the whole point is to get God to change everything around you when the first thing God wants to do is change everything…where? Within you.

See, God wants to help you rise up with the character that keeps you from crashing and costing you his best in the rest of your life. Most of us get thrown out on the way to first.

Home plate is connect. First base is ‘character.’ Second base is ‘community.’ It is the people base where you win with others. Watch how simply powerful and profound this really is.

What is the first and greatest command Jesus taught us? To love God (home plate). Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The second commandment is like unto the first. To love your neighbor (second base) as yourself (first base). Get it? Love God. Love yourself. Love others.

Third base is the competence base. Competence. So you go from ‘connect’ to ‘character’ to ‘community’ to ‘competence.’ This is the performance base. This is where you win results. By the way, when a baseball player gets to third base, is it a score? No! No, if you get left stranded on third base, it comes to nothing. Success is not an end in itself, not until you surrender that success to your significance, to the significance of why God put you here…

In other words, you have to live larger than yourself, and you live for God’s glory. This is how God grows us up, and the order of the bases actually matters. If that’s how God grows us up, if that’s the pattern that renews our minds so we can be transformed, then my question is…How does the world run the bases? We live in a world that runs the bases backward. You know this is true.

We live in a performance-driven society where what you do and success is how you’re measured. We are under such huge pressure in performing in life that we end up cheating the other bases.

We end up cheating what it takes to really build a marriage and a family. We end up cheating our integrity in order to get ahead over here. We end up cheating time with God. “Oh, we don’t have time to honor God one every seven days. I don’t have time for that. I have a busy life. Bible? Prayer? Are you kidding me? For what? That’s for weak people. I don’t do that. I don’t need that.” We end up cheating the very things that would give us the quality of life to

make sense of success and surrender it to significance. What if in a backwards base-running world we are losing a home run life God had imagined for us? That’s what Luis Ramos discovered. Here’s the rest of his story. [Video]

Luis Ramos: So I started talking about the tradeoffs we make, the fact that in a performance-driven culture, we are driven to run to third base. Very often what that results in is sacrificing relationships on second base and integrity on first base. It just hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought to myself, “This is my life. I’m destroying my relationships with my wife and my children, and it’s costing me, and it’s costing my kids. This is going to have repercussions on the rest of our lives.” I thought, “You know, I’ve been looking for this reboot. I’ve been looking for this fresh start. The reality is God is offering me a fresh start to do something with the life he gave me with the family he gave me and with the wife he gave me from my youth. I’m a fool if I think starting over with somebody else is going to turn into anything better, because the person breaking this is me.” I rededicated my life to the Lord, and I talked to my wife. I let her know. She was very skeptical, to say the least. By God’s mercy, she prayed hard about it. What she heard from the Lord was, “You don’t have permission to get out.” So she took me back. Pastor Kevin remarried us in the spring of 2001 with all of our children and our closest friends.

That running of the bases in a different pattern started a domino effect that didn’t just transformmy marriage and my children and our family, it transformed everything. It transformed my career. It transformed my business. You know, it transformed everything about me. [End of video]

See, that’s powerful. Oh yeah. When you let God renew your mind and how you run the bases of life, it will transform your life! Think about the whole of life in our society. We do our whole life backward. We spend our twenties to thirties (maybe into our forties and fifties) chasing success. Because of that, we will often burn one, two, or three marriages and estrange our kids. In our forties and fifties (or sixties) when we have enough success to realize it’s not as fulfilling… It’s a bit empty.

People enter into a marriage they start caring about and investing in and curiously want to go back and restore with their estranged kids. In their fifties and sixties, you start hearing them say to their grandchildren, “By the way, character counts. Who you are on the inside matters.” Why?

Because it’s borne out to be true. In their sixties and seventies, up to eighties, they start facing their mortality. They think, “Do you know what? Maybe there is a God. Maybe all along I got this wrong.”

It’s interesting. This November, Ted Turner, our local Atlanta CNN-Braves-Rancher-Philanthropist-mogul-Billionaire, is turning 81. In an article a few years ago were these thoughts. “Ted…the outspoken agnostic who had formerly described Christianity as ‘a religion for losers’ recently reaffirmed his openness to the religion. […] He no longer considers himself an atheist and prays for sick friends.” He closes, “Well, I sure don’t want to go to hell.” You see, we live in a world that runs the bases backward and ends up forfeiting the best God has for us. We could have a renewed mind and change the way we run.

4. How do you run the bases? More importantly, how will you run the bases of life?

Bow your heads with me. I want to take a moment to lead us in prayer. Our gracious God, many of us would have to confess like Luis that we get caught up in the ways of our world. Maybe it’s never occurred to us that we conform to the world’s pattern. Maybe it never occurred to us that under pressure, we’re costing ourselves the very things we long for. Would you grant us awakening as you did Luis? Would you do in us and for us and through us what you did for Luis? That will mean some of us right now… Even those of us who, maybe like a Ted Turner, are not even sure what we believe, but we’re starting to enter prayer because we know we’re not in control. Even us, Lord. We would ask you to renew our minds, transform our thinking to transform our lives. Maybe even some of us like Luis would have to say, “Lord, I rededicate my

life to you. Lord, I’ve gone adrift. I’ve gotten sloppy. I’ve joined the world. I wasn’t even aware of it. I’m not running the path that allows you to grow me up.” Lord, whatever would be our prayer unique to each individual, I ask you would give us the courage to confess and own what is ours, humility to ask for your help, and surrender to you that allows you to teach us not only this day but in this series. As a result, God, you would so bless our lives and our families, our character and our careers, that we would experience life to the full. Grant this blessing I pray, in Christ’s name. Everyone agreeing, say, “Amen.”

Archive for September, 2019

Luke 16. Making a Name

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on September 29, 2019

Iceland. North American/ Eurasia Divide. 2017 at Midnight.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–that he may warn them so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” [NRSA}

The punch line 

“A poor man and a rich man each die one and they meets Abraham in heaven..”

This is how most religious jokes start. 

Actually they don’t meet at the pearly gates, they meet across a great Grand Canyon.  Lazarus is in the Bosom of Abraham. And the rich man is on the other side roasting in Hades.

  1. Here is the first punch line, in heaven the man who goes to Abraham is known as the rich man and the poor man is known as Lazarus.
  2. Here is the second punch line, the man who has everything that he needs here on earth, best to make sure, he not only has the faith that Lazarus has but also desires to care for Lazaruses at the doorway.

For those who have seen the Grand Canyon or even Cloudland Canyon, it is just too far of a distance to reach across and hand someone a drink of water.

The rich man pleads to Abraham to send Lazarus on a mission trip. A mission of mercy to those who are suffering on the other side of the tracks. 

One of the great things that go on a missionary travel trip beyond what is familiar to us is that it helps us see more clearly ourselves and our home turf and environment. I have had the opportunity to see extreme poverty in slums of Mexico, desert Peru, the rivers in Brazil, the mountains of Honduras, and rural outskirts of Moscow Russia. 

Every trip reveals three things: 

  1. we travel to help others outside our own community because we are blessed in ways our neighbors in these lands cannot.
  2. We meet people of different cultures who love their children and families, enjoy eating food, drinking water and breathing air.
  3. It sometimes takes crossing great chasms to see we are closer to Hades than Heaven in our daily lives. 

There are great opportunities to serve our neighbors in our community and around the world and we can reach in both directions because we have the honor and responsibility to do both as we wear whatever we choose and eat whatever we like.

  • The second punch line is that one fellow waiting to late to realize truly how blessed he was living. 
  • The first punch line reveals how we make a name for ourselves. Not by being poor necessarily, but when we are poor we can more clearly see what we cannot do for ourselves. 

One of the great things that he rich man cannot see is that he is asking the poor man to do something for him, the rich man is asking Lazarus to be his servant.  

The rich man has lost sight of caring for Lazarus as his neighbor 

He has also forgotten that he is to be a servant himself. 

The proof is in the pudding.

Scavenger Hunt > searching in the canned pudding story

The proof

The rich man asks on behalf of his family. 

Abraham’s reply is that you didn’t listen, you didn’t serve, you didn’t believe, neither will they.

The proof is ultimately in our willingness to trust God over the world, wealth and self.

Of course, we have the privilege of hearing Jesus tell this story to disciples like ourselves.  

The final punch line is that even though we have 2000 addition years of proof some of us are no closer to god in these days of great division.

Are you on the correct side of the great divide?

There is some assumption about Lazarus feeling snuggly satisfied that the selfish rich man got what was coming to him, but the truth in this story that Lazarus has nothing to say, no comment nor commentary. 

  • The only one making excuses
  • The only one taking and suggesting
  • The only one scrambling when that train has gone
  • Is the rich man 

The man with no name, no hope, no humility, no judgment, no shame, no chance

Is the one on the uncomfortable side of the chasm. 

<side note about those folks who ask if their will be Jews in Heaven, ask Abraham>

So what do we do with this parable?

Every parable teaches us about the kingdom of God. If we back up a few verses in Chapter Lk 16:15 “So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.” That is a powerful, powerful declaration.

What is an abomination in the sight of God?

“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings…

  • A cup of cool water
  • Scraps out of our abundance
  • Recognizing we are called to serve nor be serve
  • Recognizing there are opportunities at our doorstep and around the world 
  • Recognizing there is an urgency to serve today, for tomorrow is not promised 

What is promised is a place of wholeness and rest in the bison of Abraham in the grace of Christ in the breath of the Holy Spirit and the heart to God.

Just two weeks ago I asked if you were willing to step up and reach someone who is lost 18 of us said yes.  

There is a chasm Andre wonder why our church faces a chasm

Why attendance is a conversation 

Why money is tight

  • If you are ready to offer that cool water to me who thirsts for Christ
  • If you are ready to serve the one who you’d expect to serve you
  • If you are ready with an assurance that God will save you, bless you, guide and fulfill you..  then get it there and love like Lazarus. 

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1 Timothy 2:1-7 “Right Time”

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighborsBoldnessGoodnessRelationshipWisdomWorship on September 22, 2019

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all–this was attested at the right time.For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. [NRSA]

The Right Time for Christ 

We live in an era where the perceived acceptable times: 

  • to speak of Christ or 
  • to give witness of Christ or 
  • to worship is limited to a handful of moments, locations and circumstances. 

1. This is evidence and witness that there are those in the world works against us

2. This witness that we have listen to the powers and voices of our society and affirmed that our voice is second to others

3. This example shows that when pressed we as a whole are more comfortable clamming up, acquiescing the message of Christ.

Q: So a question is: When is the Right Time for Christ?

From the text, in history, God chose a specific season in human history to reveal covenants, commandments, and challenges.

In the specific time in history, God chose to be revealed not in words and idea, not in law and rules, but as person inviting relationship.

Paul’s words to the youthful pastor and church leader-in-training to see that God continues to have specific moments for showing the world, 

1. what the world needs to know and experience and 

2. what the faithful followers need to know and experience.

We are clear that God calls us to know and experience God’s power, teaching, presence, and guidance in dependable ways:

  • Worship
  • Home
  • Private groups – study groups, fellowship groups, gathering to learn and share
  • through actions of service

We come to recognize that there are some places that it seems less appropriate to live peaceably with our non-believing, non-agreeing neighbors:

  • Not work or school 
  • Not social media or 
  • Not with strangers in a public place

This is the grey zone that gets us in trouble.

There ARE times that we are called to be prophets and to call out the king/leader

There ARE times we take the political platforms to make clear God’s word.

There are times we interrupt social comforts and cross boundaries so that those who do not know and trust God know God’s word, will and expectations for all humanity.

The majority in the church, and even in our church, is quick to let 

someone else be a prophet

Someone else speaks the uncomfortable,

Someone else feeds, clothe, comfort, correct

There are times that we called to speak clearly what the world, the congregation, and the whole church needs to hear.

In order to do this we have to follow and trust the example Paul gives to Timothy carefully:

This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In all times, God desires for EVERYONE to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • When the world twists the truth.
  • When people trust the power of wealth
  • When people are blind the plans of those who call for kindness, goodness, and peace, but don’t have the goal of what is right and acceptable in God’s sight as the agenda.

Bottom line: if someone is NOT promoting what is right and good in God’s sight, they are promoting something or someone other than God. This is one of the lines in the sand that become a defining moment.

If someone speaks of unity and community but it is not a gathering in the heart of God and is empty of God… this is not something we can stand back and accept.

If someone is speaking of fairness without justice

If someone is offering that the only authority is Government and not see that authority as entrusted by God, then we are misplacing our trust. 

If someone is calling a lie, the truth because the majority of people agree, does not make something true.

Every generation struggles with authority, wealth, leaders, nations and wars, greed, poverty and worse..

BUT we now living in a world that is more populated, more divided, more selfish, more controlled by evil and apathy than any other time.

Some will say, it’s not that bad or 

Others will say, it’s not worse

Others will say, I’m will bury my talents and head in the sand.

Others will speak up for the truth of God.

  1. AM I compromising God’s call upon my life?
  2. AM I watering down God’s authority in exchange for what I am comfortable managing or accepting?
  3. AM I ready to devote my talents, times, skills, dreams, family, resources on the heart of God over the values and powers of the world?

If we are not ready to consider these questions then we have already answered them!!

Christ was revealed at a certain time.

  • We are living in a time that the church is being outnumbered by others faith,
  • made irrelevant by those without faith,
  • and our authority challenged by our inaction

As we prepare to be the church in the new decade and for the next 200+ years, what are we doing today, individually and collectively to make ready the GOD’s visions, God’s plan, God’s goodness, God’s will is revealed in THIS time?

The right time for shaping the future is THIS morning, this year, this moment.

Here is our call to accountability that we share with Timothy in his time.

The church was being born and shape for us now by the faith of Timothy and his congregation then.

Q: How are we seeking to make clear the heart of God in what we are doing this morning  — stop fear, complaints, blame…

Q: How are we making bold the vision of God for our church

How are we bring the goodness of God’s authority within the grasp of those who are hungry, thirsting, wandering and running 180 degrees away from God?

Final thoughts:

It is an interesting statement Paul gives to Tim and the churches then, “I’m not lying.”

Usually when some will say, “now pastor, preach I’m going to tell you the truth.” Does that mean they usually don’t tell the truth but this time I’m going to speak truthfully 

Is there a right time to be quiet and allow the society and the leaders lead so that we may live peacefully with those who oppose us, but there are right times that we boldly speak the truth of Christ. 

This time for us to begin to more clear and intentional about speaking the truth in the world that will sell a lie, greed, fear IN the name of GOODNESS but without the heart of God’s.

The “I’m not lying” is an affirmation of the timeliness to be 

  • Strong
  • Bold
  • Clear
  • Intentional
  • Faithful
  • and Devoted to God who loves, saves and empowers us to lover 
    • our family, AND 
    • our neighbors, AND 
    • our enemy, AND 
    • the stranger 
    • SO THAT everyone, EVERYONE may find the heart of God!!

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Luke 15:1-10. Rejoice in Finding the Lost

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#belonging#reachingthelostwithchrietcelebrationconnectionDisicpleshipFellowship on September 15, 2019

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [NRSA]

  • Finding lost money. I put on a suit coat to see if it still fit and found a $20 bill in the pocket. Let’s go out to lunch?
  • I found a $100 dollar bill at the mall at Christmas time. We asked at five shops and two dozen people to see if anyone lost money. No one claimed the $100. We went to the toys story and spent the whole amount to give to angel-tree family for Christmas.
  • We found Susanna sitting inside a clothes rack watching Barney in the children’s department in Belk’s and took her to celebrate y eating ice cream. She had not run off we walked away from her and didn’t know she had stayed.
  • We have caution our children to hang on to their tickets stubs at ball games so that if they became lost they could use the tickets to find our seats.

These are a taste of being lost, but invite you to see from the eyes of those who are lost from the heart of God, but I ask you to step into the world of true emptiness and the hopeless of being lost.

We phrase this as loosing our way, loosing our mind, loosing our place, loosing out perspective, and even loosing our dreams, hope and purpose.

This is the lostness that we visit today.

First we must own up that all of us are lost without a relationship with God. God who loves us, formed us, fills us with breath and spirit, the one who long’s for us to find our purpose, peace, strength and wholeness in a relationship, with God and with one another.

When we are truthful about our hearts, our family, our own inner and personal self, we know what it feels like to be lost:

Asking the congregation …

We can spend a lifetime blaming and excusing ourselves, but it is more important to recognize our state of being lost and seek to find our way or to make us easier to be found

Once on a scout camping trip we spread out our troop throughout the woods moving each campers lean-to just at the edge of being in sight of the next, maybe 200-300 yards apart. When the sun rose, some wrestles camper awoke and made their way bake to the base camp. The last camp slept a bit later, got turned around and walked the opposite direction of the camp. Two hours later we found his sleeping bag and gear by the road, but he was nowhere in sight. Two more hours passed with Forrest service persons, sherif and ems searchers we got word that he had hitch hiked a ride home and was asleep in bed. It had a good ending but it helped us realize how quickly someone becomes lost.

The ease of sneaking a few beers, coolness of vaping, the curiosity of marijuana, the high of meth, the addiction of heroine, the deadliness of fentinyal. It’s a slippery slope that everyone who starts down a path believes they can handle and avoid what everyone else fallen victim.

How many families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other we know who find themselves lost in addiction. Again we can focus on blame and excusing but the transformation come in becoming “found”.

In Jesus’s parable, a sheep my happen to find its way home, but it is 99% more likely to be found when those who have the perspective of compassion, hope, and access to salvation go out to the one lost and bring them home.

In the parable a lost coin could never find its way home, it is because of the diligence of those who search that the lost are found.

Jesus’s parable is calling us picture the joy of helping someone find their purpose, hope, strength, perspective, healing, restoration, new life..

Samuel Bangura of Sierra Leone. Lost, alcohol and failure, lead him accross the Atlantic, down the east coast and to the streets of Atlanta, we welcomed him to dinner, to buy clothes, to spend Christmas Eve night and to share in the family Christmas celebration and his love blossomed and he gather a freight container of clothes and he returned to SL to start an orphanage and school, loving and dying to save children in a warming homeland. It started with a conversation, a meal, a sleep over, worship, bible study, mission project, to transforming hundreds of others.

Recapping, there are none of us who escape feeling and experience being lost at times.

We know the joy of being found, helped, restored and

We have the ability to offer that gift to others

The problem: many times folks don’t think they are lost, the say we are

Many time folks don’t see another way of hope or happiness their what they have committed to

a. The task of reaching out is about our offering

B. Making the risk of trying

C. Our task is not to wait until someone comes to us but to go to those who are lost

D. Ultimately we offer the compassion, strength and hope of Christ, in tangible ways and let God work through us.

NOTE: One crazy thing is that for some you may not be the person someone will listen to, but you can connect them with others that might.

Out job is to avoid neglecting the lost

2. In Jesus’s parable he risks leaving those who know his voice and the comfort of the green pastures and the still waters and the shade of the tree and going out to ONE who is lost.

Our denomination is struggling. Over forty years we have dodge around the gender identity issues and focused on policies and politics. When we have been called to offer the saving, loving, restoring power of Jesus Christ to all persons.

As a denomination we have lost our way. About a month ago, Scott and I looked at the attendance and membership data of 40 churches in the North Georgia and in to Chattanooga and of those congregations 1 church has held steady, one started a second worship service Ana has reported some growth, but small, medium and large church have decreased in participation. Again we can dwell upon the blame and excuses, but until we return to our neighbors who are lost we will continue to be less of the church we are called to be.

We are all called to help restore others

3. This message is directed to disciples, Pharisees, teachers, agents of the government and all the other sinners.

If you are happy and celebrate when you find lost money or a runaway animal, how much more wonderful it is when we go out to search for our neighbors who are hurting, broken, empty, lonely, grieving, struggling, and worse.

Being the Faithful vs. fixing the problems

4. The charge is to bring persons into the fellowship of belonging, growing, worshiping and maturing in faith and not necessarily what the lost person is asking as help. “If you truly loved me then you would pay my bills, give me a house and car and job and not expect anything of me…” but this is never true.

To be found is to be found, to belong, to be joined as family, restored to the collection, part of the fold.

I look forward to hearing about your celebration of God working through you!

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At Home with God

Posted by myoikos in #2019Praise on September 7, 2019

Psalm 139:1-18

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. [NRSA]

  • The Peace of God’s Presence
  • The Protection of God’s Presence
  • The Power of God’s Presence

How to find God when we are lost?

“Be Still and Know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

1. Begin the day with praise and prayer.

Then pour out your heart and tell God about all the things going on in your life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Picture yourself physically taking one burden after another, placing them into God’s hands, and letting them lay there. The act of giving ourselves to God is a life long practice of :

  • a. knowing God is able, willing and desires our burdens and fears
  • b. yielding our power to God’s loving grace
  • c. practicing humility with our most personal struggles.

2. Meditate on a passage.

When I have a hard time quieting my mind, I like to meditate on Psalm 46:10:

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Focus on one word at a time, letting your mind rest on that one word for a few seconds before moving on to the next word. Here are a few other passages to start: 

  • Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
  •  Romans 5:8, While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Psalm 103:13-14. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name…

3. Mental Pictures and Visions.

Imagine God seated on His throne, using passages like Revelation 4-6 to shape our minds-eye, our imagination.

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.  And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne,”Revelation 4:2-3.

Can you picture that? Continue reading. Imagine God high and lifted up, I kneel down and bow my face to the ground, picturing myself in the heavenly throne room, joining the angels and the elders in singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and then being still in His presence.

Imagine your self crawling into Abba Father’s lap and laying your head on God’s shoulder, much like a two-year-old does when she/he just needs a hug.

4. Write out distracting thoughts.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to quiet down my mind, I start to remember all sorts of things like birthday gift ideas, spring cleaning tasks, and meal plans. If that happens to you, grab a pen, write it down, and then return your attention to the Lord. Release those distracting thoughts, knowing you can come back to them later.

5. Recite a prayer of stillness.

Ask God to help calm your mind like Jesus calmed the storming sea. This can even be an imaginative prayer: Your thoughts are the waves that Jesus commands to be calm. Acknowledge your racing thoughts and ask the Holy Spirit to rule over them and help your mind rest in His presence.

6. Be physically still. Start small. Breathe Deeply

Begin with 30 seconds or a minute of stillness. And while 30 seconds may not seem like much, as you begin to incorporate this practice of stillness into your spiritual life, you’ll find it gets easier as the years go by. Then build up to 5 or 10 minutes. It’s in this place of communion with God that we quiet ourselves enough to hear what the Spirit wants to say to us.

7. Stillness isn’t always quiet, clean, nor neat. 

Sharing Our Weeping and Wailing.

Do you know that, oftentimes, our stillness comes after the emotional dam finally breaks? I have no idea why, but it’s usually necessary to lose it before the process of healing begins. You can trust God with your deepest pain. Through it, He will lead you deeper into stillness.”

Encouraging and Allow Others the Time and Space for Peace in God.

We cannot force peace, it must be found in God.

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Hebrews 13:12-16 Three Rules: Refresher

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#accountability#Spiritualshape#threerules#threetools5 PracticesChurchSpiritual on September 1, 2019

Three Tools

Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. [NRSA]

John Wesley’s “Three Rules” are 1) Do no harm, 2) Do all the good that you can. and 3) Continue to grow Spiritually by practicing piety.

Wesley offers these three rules from the perspective of living as Sanctified people who are always moving toward Christian Perfections, which is our wholeness in God. 

Therefore the rules are the guide for growing into the people God has hoped and dreamed we would become through Christ.

The reality is that we have conflicts and problems with the three rules. 

  • We don’t always avoid doing what is harmful, sinful or evil. 
  • We don’t always do what is good for God and others, much less ourselves. 
  • And we are spastic in prating our spiritual maturity, as we generally believe we have figured enough out to get by until we have crises we can’t handle.

All this affirms that we don’t fully understand the three rules as helpful tools. As simple rules, there are ideas for us to think about in our head. I offer the tool bag instead. Wesley’s three simple tools.

The first tool is the hammer. It is weighted, purposeful and designed to be used to construct when used properly. It is to strike metal nails and not fingernails. When you hit your finger, it not only cause you to take the Lord’s name in vain or at least shout our in pain, it leaves a bruise or it might take off the fingernail or open the skin for infection on top of the pain and soreness.

No one would willfully hit their thumb, but it happens. No one would strike another person with a hammer but it happens. The heavy hammers in tired and sweaty hands might drop and injure a toe, a co-worker or cause damage to the building project.

The hammer has the ability to do good or harm. Don’t intend harm with a tool number one. 

Parenting. As a parent I know that sometimes setting a limit, pointing our an error, or protecting a child or the family from harm means saying “No.”, setting boundaries, and even providing a measure to shape attitudes and behaviors.  From the child’s point of view, they might feel they have been harmed. So doing no harm would actually be doing harm. The perspective and intent determine when our actions and attitudes are harmful. 

  • People will say “the church didn’t love me, because they didn’t approve of my sin.” We address sin so that we can, “go and sin no more.”
  • They didn’t give me money to they don’t show the love of Jesus, “They are all hypocrites.” We are not perfect, but loving is not always pleasing.
  • I didn’t get my way, so the church harmed me.

… in these, we take the tool of “Do no harm” and use it as a weapon rather than a tool for constructing that which is good for God, others and ourselves. 

Perspective and intent are what the first rule/tool is all about. 

Clarified: Do No Harm is: in all we do, don’t intend to reject, don’t plan to harm, don’t let anger, fear, disappointment guide your thoughts and actions. 

Tool number two:   The Spoon

“Do all the Good that you can.”  This is one is where the church may find its greatest threat. We assume this rule set the highest demand that we always do good. We learn from the first rule that what is good is not determined by what others ask of us, nor is it the good that we define.  Goodness is defined by God, for God’s purposes.

A spoon is a great tool. It can be used to feed ourselves or someone else. It allows us to gather bite-sized portions and deliver something that is good or evil. 

You know the saying, “He can dish it, but he can’t take it.” We want Good to come to us. This second tool is like the basic lesson of loving one’s neighbor, “Love your neighbor like you would like for your neighbor to love you, whether your neighbor loves you or not.

The spoon carries a portion of something that is unconditional. We can hardly do good for those we know and love; when it comes to loving those who are different or showing Goodness to our enemies, rivals and those narrow-minded knuckleheads would don’t think as we do.. The temptation is to avoid them, appease them or draw our line of goodness in the sand stand before them and God knowing we have done our part.

The power part of the spoon is that offers a controlled portion. My doctor said to me, “if you eat a spoon of ice cream, you are doing ok, if your portion is the whole container, you are way out of bounds.” 

Don’t become overwhelmed with doing everything well, all at once, all the time. When we have the commandment to show Goodness and we fail or fall short, we get overwhelmed. 

The constructive use of a spoon is that with one portion we can take the next step of turning around a past of doing harm, doing evil and being broken in sin. One spoonful of good does not equal all the injustice and brokenness we create, but with one act of doing Good transforms the direction of our faithfulness. The more spoons of Goodness we share the closer we move toward God and all the people of God’s work. 

Clarification: When we do what is Good, we are taking small bites of doing things God’s way. 

The third tool is a treadmill. Practice your piety, growing in Christian fellowship and maturing your Spiritual self with God, others and ourselves.  

NO!! Not the treadmill! Everyone knows what the treadmill is for. Walking, running, exercise. How many people have purchased a treadmill or other exercise equipment as a yard sale, only to later sell the same machine at another yard sale?

The good use of the treadmill is not as a place to hang clothes or store boxes of junk. The ownership of a treadmill offers no health benefit unless we use it. 

Even a basic treadmill has some measurements. Time, distance, difficulty and measure of work accomplished. 

The appropriate use of such a device is to use it, daily. The third rule is best used in the third tool. 

Think of all the wonderful things we can do to strengthen our relationship with God, our neighbor, and our enemies that don’t require elevating your heart rate!!

  • Singing, 
  • Worshiping, 
  • Praying, 
  • Studying, 
  • Journaling, 
  • Fasting, 
  • Serving, 
  • Witnessing, and 
  • Sharing in fellowship with other Christians. 

Think of how practicing these spiritual exercises will build spiritual muscle for when we are dealing with rule ONE and TWO.

Three Tools: A Hammer, a Spoon, and a Treadmill

Three Rules:

Be intentional about building God’s kingdom and not simply avoiding harm.

Be repetitive in a diet of doing Good, one bite at a time

Be renewed and growing practicing on Spirit on God’s treadmills

Archive for August, 2019

Luke 13:10-17 Sabbath Healing

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on August 24, 2019

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. [NRSA]

When is the Sabbath? 

Calendar debate. Are we actually on the correct day? We are trusting the conflicting mathematics between the Julian, Gregorian to the British version of the Gregorian calendar is projected to be approximately 14 days off by the year 2100. So if we set aside the possibility that we may be off-center even with faith and the world’s best guess of today actually by only 14 days, we can pretty much agree that today is Sunday. Much of the fuss over the accuracy of the calendar has been over religious and political disagreements. But let’s set aside this as splitting hairs and get at the general nature of Sunday being the first day of the week. 

The Sabbath being the seventh day and Sunday being the adjusted Sabbath honoring the day of Resurrection being on Sunday. So we are generally ok with not exactly keeping the Sabbath, on the Sabbath in the name praise of glorifying God’s work in Jesus Christ on our behalf. 

Those who questioned Jesus healing on the Sabbath as “Breaking” one of the top ten commandments. We must remember we are unsure which day of the week we historically are living and that we have agreed to move it to Sunday from the day God determined at creation. We are breaking the Sabbath, two for two.

To better understand the charge they literalist lodged against Jesus, let’s look back at Genesis to get the early version of the Sabbath:

  • Genesis 2:2-3
  • 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

A Day for God to Rest from Creating

  • Exodus 16:4, 4:14, 20:8-11, 31:14, 
  • 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
    14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.
    8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days, the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  • 14 “ ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.
  • A Day made Holy, for God’s People to Rest, Deadly Serious
  • Acts 16:13, 17:2, 18:4, 20:7
  • 13 On the Sabbath, we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.•
  • 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
  • 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
  • 7 On the first day of the week, we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

A Day at the Synagogue of Study, Debate, and Eating

Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

Sabbath is our Day for ONLY God

So the activity of the Sabbath has expanded from simply not working and being with God to a commandment, to an exercise of learning, to a time to prohibit some things and be busy with God things. Back to a day for us to be with God.

Rest from work SO THAT God my renew us

In this passage, the work that Jesus does on the Sabbath is healing. 

We gather to worship God, but the fruit of our worship is placing our selves humbly before God and to be restored for the week ahead. 

Today we join with the woman who has to Jesus on the Sabbath and appear before Jesus to be healed, restored, renewed, no longer crippled by those things that have plagued us, gripped and held us back. Sabbath is a day for healing.

I invite you to come and make yourself as a living offering, for God has worked for us in the week ahead and we do not need to start from a place of brokenness.

Come and share in the healing power, love, and grace of Jesus Christ.

The healing is not in the oil, it is but a means opening our hearts, humbling and willingly asking Jesus to rest in us, to heal and renew us for the service of love and the work of the kingdom for the world. Come!Advertisements

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Jeremiah 23:23-29 Yahweh or Baal?

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on August 18, 2019

Who do you vote for? Yahweh or Baal?

Am I a God nearby, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back–those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the LORD. Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? [NRSV]

Luke 12:49-56

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’, and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [NRSV]

SETTING THE CONTEXT

Last week we listen to the warning from Isaiah the prophet from a 75-80 year period of the 700s and 600s. Today we hear from Jeremiah who calls out to the people of God during a 75 year period from 627 to 575 BC. 

Skip to the end of the story. Things go from fair to complete division and exile to Babylon, completely out of the Promised Land.

Even though generations pass and kings and nations continue to develop, the People of God eventually find themselves removed from their country and become enslaved to a foreign state and culture. 

Like every other Prophet, Jeremiah calls for faith and faithfulness.  He shares God’s words to inspire

  1. Repentance
  2. Transformation
  3. Devotion to God and not to other Gods and not to a life apart from God.

But We are Modern and we Know better:

In our modern world view we are quick to that fall of Jerusalem and all the people being driven out of their home and country would never happen to us. We are the U.S.A.

The ‘faithful’ once divided from one another also became divided from God and squandered their inheritance and ended up in the far country. (much like the prodigal son story)

What ‘was’ Baal Worship?

Historically the principal practices of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality, and reverence of creation over the Creator. We may have different practices but the core misplaced-spiritual devotion remains a threat to us.

Modern Apostasy

Think when we say our personal success and networking were dependent on “playing the game.” If you quit playing along, avoid going to the parties, not participating in group-think, you would not be able to do business, lose your friends, not be successful. Your network would dry up. In various ways, our social and business The groups’ places demanded that we “support” to be liked, included or productive. Therefore, we give time, talent and allegiance that is misplaced. “Support” is based on participation and financial contribution. It was all tied up with the rules of doing business. Think of the high place of diversity. (College acceptance is not about the best students, its about demographic profiles. [ref.]

Misplaced Love, Devotion, or Trust

Anything good can become an idol if we love it too much. That’s what Paul was driving at when he called greed a form of idolatry. What is greed if not loving something too much?

Let’s consider some modern-day idols in three separate categories.

YAHWEH OR BAAL?

“When the Israelites entered Canaan, they found a land of farmers, not shepherds, as they had been in the wilderness. The land was fertile beyond anything the Hebrew nomads had ever seen. The Canaanites attributed this fertility to their god Baal, and that is where the Israelites problems began. Could the God who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness also provide fertile farms in the Promised Land? Or would the fertility god of Canaan have to be honored? Maybe, to be safe, they should worship both; Yahweh and Baal.

An intense battle began for the minds and hearts of God’s people. The book of Judges records the ongoing struggle: the Israelites attraction to, and worship of, the Canaanite gods; God’s disciplinary response; the people’s repentance; and God’s merciful forgiveness until the next time the Israelites reached for Baal instead of Yahweh.

This struggle to be totally committed to God is of vital importance to us today as well. We don’t think of ourselves as idol worshipers, yet we struggle to serve God alone in every part of our lives. It is easy (and seductive) to honor possessions, fun, relationships, fame, money, and a host of other potential “gods.”

We need to learn from Israel’s experience and respond to Jesus’ command for total allegiance. One way we can accomplish this is to study the gods that attracted Yahweh’s people 3,000 years ago.” [ref.

How Does it Happen

First, we worship at the altar of materialism which feeds our need to build our egos through the acquisition of more “stuff.” Our homes are filled with all manner of possessions. We build bigger and bigger houses with more closets and storage space in order to house all the things we buy, much of which we haven’t even paid for yet. Most of our stuff has “planned obsolescence” built into it, making it useless in no time, and so we consign it to the garage or other storage space. Then we rush out to buy the newest item, garment or gadget and the whole process starts over. This insatiable desire for more, better, and newer stuff is nothing more than covetousness. The tenth commandment tells us not to fall victim to coveting: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). God doesn’t just want to rain on our buying sprees. He knows we will never be happy indulging our materialistic desires because it is Satan’s trap to keep our focus on ourselves and not on Him. 

Second, we worship at the altar of our own pride and ego. This often takes the form of obsession with careers and jobs. Millions of men—and increasingly more women—spend 60-80 hours a week working. Even on the weekends and during vacations, our laptops are humming and our minds are whirling with thoughts of how to make our businesses more successful, how to get that promotion, how to get the next raise, how to close the next deal. In the meantime, our children are starving for attention and love. We fool ourselves into thinking we are doing it for them, to give them a better life. But the truth is we are doing it for ourselves, to increase our self-esteem by appearing more successful in the eyes of the world. (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23). 

Third, we idolize ‘humanity’ through naturalism and the power of science. We cling to the illusion that we are lords of our world and build our self-esteem to godlike proportions. We reject God’s Word and His description of how He created the heavens and the earth, and we accept the nonsense of atheistic evolution and naturalism. We embrace the goddess of environmentalism and fool ourselves into thinking we can preserve the earth indefinitely when God has declared that this current age will have an end. Our focus should not be on worshiping the environment but on living holy lives as we wait eagerly for the return of our Lord and Savior. We need saving, not the earth; God our hope, not ourselves.

Finally, and perhaps most destructively, we worship at the altar of self-aggrandizement or the fulfillment of the self to the exclusion of all others and their needs and desires. This manifests itself in self-indulgence through alcohol, drugs, and food. Those in affluent countries have unlimited access to alcohol, drugs (prescription drug use is at an all-time high, even among children), and food. Obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed, and childhood diabetes brought on by overeating is epidemic. The self-control we so desperately need is spurned in our insatiable desire to eat, drink, and medicate more and more. When we love the Lord and others with everything that is in us, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry. [ref]

I. Idols of Power

Idols of power are those created things that give us a sense of significance and personal worth. 

II. Idols of Pleasure

So many things fall into this category. 

Pleasure. It could be something that seems harmless—hobbies, sports, success, the promise of ‘ease.’ 

Sexual Satisfaction. Pleasure, power, self-fulfillment. Choice, Identity. All that is about self and not giving of oneself in devotion.

Personal Identity. When I ask you to validate my view of myself don’t care what you think of me nor do I care what God see’s in me.

Technology. We can’t live without some background noise. If you don’t think TV is an idol, try living without it for seven days and see what happens. TV, so can the computer, or phone, social media, artificial intelligence.—virtual reality gods that will advise us exactly as the gods of ancient Greece and Egypt instructed their followers.

Opinions: Many people today adopt this as the bottom line on personal morality. If it makes you feel good, go ahead and do it. Just don’t hurt anyone else in the process. 

Self Gratification: How many times have you heard sin justified with the words, “I just want to be happy?” And so we divorce our spouses because we are unhappy, we break our commitments because we can’t find fulfillment, and we abandon our promises and walk away from family and friends—all in search of that elusive thing called happiness. We do wrong and excuse ourselves by saying, “God understands.” 

Sexual fulfillment may become an idol. At this point, I would say that so-called Gay Christianity is a very clear form of modern-day Baal worship because homosexuals attempt to justify their sin by baptizing their immorality in the guise of Christianity. This is unspeakably evil because it links the holy name of Jesus with that which God has condemned.

Drugs, Alcohol, Food, diversions, and avoidance. When a thing or substance controls you, your time and your resources, you are an idolater whether you admit it or not.

So many of the addictions of life fall into this category. When God created the world, he pronounced it good, but ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, Satan’s number one strategy has been to cause us to take that which is good and put it in the place of God. We may say it quite simply: Whatever controls you at a deep level is the god you worship. If you are not controlled by God, then you must be controlled by an idol of your own making. 

III. Idols of the Heart

Jesus warned us that you cannot serve God and money? “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). Money is capitalized because when you serve it, it becomes your god. Our Lord said you cannot have God and money both in first place in your heart. One of them has to go. You cannot serve two masters.

Along the same line, a relationship can easily become an idol when it becomes the controlling interest of life. You can love a person too much or for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way or with the wrong motives. Once you say of any human relationship, “I cannot live without that person in my life,” then you have crossed a line that should not be crossed. 

God’s warning: Destroy your idols or I will do it for you!

Let’s go back to the Second Commandment for a moment. Notice the warning in Exodus 20:5 — “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.” In the end God, we belong to God and we are left with nothing but God, is the only way we find God sometimes.

Two Sobering Conclusions

A. Anything good can become an idol if we love it too much.

That should be completely clear by now. Idolatry lies in the worshiper, not in the thing worshipped. A golden calf is not an idol by itself. Left to itself, a golden calf is just a golden calf. It becomes an idol only when we begin to worship it. It is a wrong attitude that turns something good into something bad.

¨ Don’t blame your car if you aren’t happy. New or old, running or limping. It won’t love nor save you.
¨ Don’t blame your boy/girl friend if you aren’t happy.  Address your own faith and bring that power.
¨ Don’t blame your spouse if you aren’t happy. No husband or wife can make you happy all the time. 
¨ Don’t blame your boss if you aren’t happy. — Their job is to create wealth through you.

¨ Don’t blame your children if you aren’t happy. they are our joy but not our God
¨ Don’t blame your new house if you aren’t happy. No house can provide the ultimate happiness.
¨ Don’t blame your church if you aren’t happy. No church can make you happy.

 Don’t blame the government if you aren’t happy. No politics will make you happy.

Happiness comes from a living relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone can satisfy the deepest needs of your life. Looking anywhere else for ultimate happiness is really just a sophisticated form of idolatry. 

B. The ultimate tragedy of idolatry is that it takes all that you have and gives nothing in return.

Have you ever thought about how strange life is? You are born, you grow up, get married, get a job, have children, raise your children, take a vacation, retire, and then you die. And your children, what do they do? The same thing. And their children? The same thing.

You have two choices. You can spend your life chasing idols your hands have made. But what happens when you die? Your idols die with you. Or you can spend your life doing God’s will. And when you die, it’s not over. Life has just begun.

The folly of idolatry is that it’s only for this life and then it’s over. You’re a loser now and a loser later. The idol robs you now and leaves you penniless in the grave. You’ve cheated all the way around.

Idolatry makes sense if you are going to live forever on earth. But if you plan to die someday, it’s the greatest stupidity of all.

The only lasting cure for idolatry is a fervent love for God.

As we pondered the matter, it seems to me that the hardest step is seeing our idols in the first place. Even as we share these words, we are conscious of a little voice inside saying, “Hey, don’t worry about it. You’re not an idol-worshipper.” But that voice is not the voice of God. If I am honest before God and open to the Holy Spirit, I must admit that I have my idols that must be torn down. [ref]

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Isaiah 1:1,10-20 Let’s Argue

Posted by myoikos in #2019#repentance#rsumcLeadership on August 10, 2019

 The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah….Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation— I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [NRSV]

A Vision of Isaiah

Concerning Period 3 Kings and 1 regent

The period of time is between 790 to 690 BC. Isaiah lead as a prophet through the end of Uzziah into the reign of Hezekiah. 

During this period, God’s people of Judah fought with God’s people of Israel and made expedient allies of Syria and Egypt as they needed help. The people shifted for faithfulness to completely selling out to Idolatry with the Canaanites, with King Ahaz made a replica of the idea of Baal in the temple of Judah and made offering go his son’s life to the altar of Molech. Hezekiah finally brings faithfulness back after heading Isaiah’s warning and even invited the Northern Kingdom to celebrate Passover together.

An Argument with God.

First, it’s acceptable to argue with God if you know in the end that God is God and that you and I are not. With that said God is supremely patience, but will, in the end, call us to faithfulness and obedience.

Isaiah’s Account of God side setting up for the argument:

  • rulers of Sodom! 
  • you people of Gomorrah! 
  • So you talk about the many sacrifices? 
    • Do You think that your offerings buy my favor?
  • Your many holiday and celebrations? I don’t want your songs and gifts.
    • Why would I want to be at your good holiday, and you ignore your sin?
  • You think you have figured out creation, and use the heavens as a tool to measure and control me?
  • You can raise your hands and prayers and songs, I’m not listening. 
    • If this is how you make religion replace a relationship of trust and obedience, then I don’t want you in my sight.

INSTEAD

  • Wash yourselves; 
  • make yourselves clean; 
  • remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; 
  • cease to do evil, 
  • learn to do good; 
  • seek justice, 
  • rescue the trampled, taken advantage of, or forgotten.

When you have done these things, then let’s argue.

The Good News is that when we find ourselves through obedience to God, we find the Goodness in life.

  • It is easy to dismiss this passage as history and not hear it applying to ourselves. 
  • First, as this is presented as God’s Message for the political and spiritual leaders of the day.
  • So it is easy to point fingers and blame the king. 
  • This word does not excuse the king of doing what is Godly.
  • Nor does this word excuse US for doing what is Godly and obedient, we can’t blame our leaders for all the sin.

You pick the topic of news, debate, crisis, and threat of this past week alone, and know-how quickly people look for blame. Isaiah’s word is for Judah and Israel. It is for you and for me. 

  1. Stop Blaming
  2. Stop making excuses
  3. Stop looking for our own ideas and solutions
  4. Turn back to God
  5. Trust God’s Goodness and Word
  6. Trust God’s will and wisdom
  7. Trust God’s way and place ourselves as a servant of God and God’s people and will then God will make us the witness to all the nations.

We live more in time like Ahaz rather than Hezekiah. When the world is rejecting God and replacing anything and everything in God’s place, it is no wonder that evil and chaos.

So what are we to do about our nation and our leaders?

We are not only called to

  • Repent of our sins,
  • Stop acting like knuckleheads
  • Start witnesses to those who are
  • and be a strength to those who are trampled and taken advantage of.

But not in reverse: 

  • Repentance
  • Transformation
  • Prophets
  • Servant

We’d rather just do one or two on the list… but its a process

  • It’s not about just serving the oppressed
  • It is also dealing with sin, ours and theirs
  • It’s not just about talking about forgiveness and change
  • it is becoming an actual example of obedience.

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Colossians 3:1-11 “One Life to Live”

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on August 3, 2019

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  On account of these, the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  These are the ways you also once followed when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal, there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!  [NRSA]

You have been raised with Christ,

  • Seek the things that are above.
  • Set your minds on things that are above,

When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. 

Put to death what in you is earthly:

  • fornication,
  • impurity,
  • lustful passion,
  • evil desire, and
  • greed,
  • idolatry.  

WARNING: wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  

These are the ways you also once followed when you were living that life. 

BUT HOW? WHERE TO START?

But now you must:

  • get rid of all such things—
  • anger,
  • wrath,
  • malice,
  • slander, and
  • abusive language from your mouth.  
  • Do not lie to one another,
  • Stripped off the old self with its practices,
  • clothed yourselves with the new self,
  • being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 

In that renewal, there is no longer divided as the World divides, rather be UNITED IN CHRIST.

WHAT DOES UNITED IN CHRIST MEAN?

  • Personal Behaviors and Attitudes
  • the opposite of the world’s view of promiscuity – Fidelity, and Trust
  • the opposite of me first, or myself above God – Faith and Worship
  • the opposite of seeing people as objects for our happiness and power, all created by and for God
  • the opposite of evil – God’s Love and Law
  • the opposite of greed and idolatry Peace, Joy, Wholeness in God

Things to Deal with, throw away or get away from:

  • anger. No matter what people do we can’t HATE any away.
  • wrath, Using our influence and resources for selfishness.
  • malice, Intentional Harm (The Qualification of Do no INTENTIONAL harm)
  • slander, Not repaying evil words and thoughts for evil words and thoughts. (Deal with Racism by yielding power not correctness)
  • abusive language from your mouth.  
  • Do not lie to one another, Some times the truth is unfair, unpopular and even unclear, but lying to make some feel better or ourselves escape or protected cuts at the bonds of fidelity, trust, love, grace, etc.

We have one life to figure our future

  1. You and I have this life to determine if we will starve in the wilderness or eat God’s manna and trust God to make a way when our ways are dead ends.
  2. You and I have the breath of this one life, no matter where we have come from, to decide if God’s home is where we want to live.
  3. You and I have the free will and choice to choose God’s or to choose to rely on ourselves or others to make a way we believe is better. The consequences of choosing the other ways, than God’s way, all end with us being alone and apart from God.
  4. The Word to the Colossians and to us: We continually make the choice with our thoughts and actions to Trust God or ourselves.

While choosing God’s way, God’s heart, God’s love is simple to start. We have a daily choice of staying in that Grace of choosing another path. God never forces us to choose him not to stay with him.

Go back to the list:

Am I happy, content and whole:

  1. Because I have money and things enough for eternity? Sincere there is not eternity in my view, I want it all now.
  2. I’m just doing the best I can and I’m hoping for God to cut me some slack when the final exam comes, or will I recognize the need to call his name when trouble comes?
  3. I’d rather people all cooperate and get along and stay together even if I have to re-frame what God expects of us.

Why Make it So Hard

We make it hard on ourselves and one another. Jesus offers himself to us daily, the bread of life and the cup of salvation. Eat and Drink from the life that is eternal. Forget the slavery that goes with the fleshpots in back in captivity of some other allegiance.

Prayer: Jesus come into my heart and life right now and make me whole, make me yours, take my whole self- broken, confused and alone, fill me with our love and grace. Set my feet and my heart on you and the things of your kingdom. Have mercy on me, a waster of life and gifts and treasures and make me your own again today. Keep me in your will and change my heart, mind, and soul. Make my life a witness that leads someone else to your heart. Thank you! Praise you. Amen and Amen.

Archive for July, 2019

Luke 11:1-13 Prayer Practice

Posted by myoikos in #2019#prayer, #prayerpractice, #persistenceIntentional Spiritual GrowthPrayersSpiritual Growth on July 28, 2019

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [NRSV]

Prayer example

1. Father, hallowed be your name. (YOU ARE HOLY)

2. Your kingdom come. (YOU ARE WORTHY)

3. Give us each day our daily bread. (We Trust you)

4. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. (love as you want to be loved)

5. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” ( SAVE US )

Persistence of Prayer: a Parable

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

Practice of praying

“So I say to you,

Ask, and it will be given you;

search, and you will find;

knock, and the door will be opened for you.

  • Verbal, affirm was I need or want
  • Enquire/ Study, see how God has answered, learn from past,
  • Knock on Doors, ask others and see persistence and promise of prayer:

Promise of Prayer

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Participation inPrayer

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”Advertisements

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Luke 10:38-42 The Better Part

Posted by myoikos in #2019#firstthingsfirst#listenforjesusWorship on July 20, 2019

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]

DISTRACTED BY MANY

It does not take much to distract me.

1. New Study on Multitasking from Forbes 15 point loss on IQ  Stanford major degradation

2. Recent Study on ADHD from Fox/Reuters 14% boys and 6% girls

3. Article: Fascinating Email Facts and Statistics

       Statistics, extrapolations, and counts by the Radicati Group found the following:

  • Over half of the world population uses email in 2019.
  • The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
  • The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023.
  • DMR has curated these other fascinating tidbits about email:
  • The first email system was developed in 1971.
  • Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails.
  • The click-through rate for email sent in North America is 3.1%.
  • The average click-through rate on desktop computers is 13.3% and, on mobile devices, it’s 12.7%.
  • The average amount of overall emails opened on desktop computers is 16%, on mobile devices is 55.6%, and on webmail is 28%.
  • The Apple iPhone email client is used most, followed by Gmail.
  • The open rate increases by 17% when the subject line is personalized.
  • Forty-two percent of Americans admit to checking email in the bathroom, and 50% do so while in bed.
  • The average open rate for retail emails is 20.96%, and for political emails is 22.23%.
  • The top spam content category in 2017 was healthcare, followed by malware.
  • The top reason U.S. internet users unsubscribe from email lists is, “I get too many emails in general.”
  • 99Firms has its own curated list that includes the following facts:
  • Despite the rise of social messaging apps, 78% of teenagers use email.
  • A majority (62.86%) of business professionals prefer email to communicate for business purposes.
  • Ninety percent of workers check their personal email at least every few hours.
  • Email click rates increase by up to 300% if a video is included.
  • The best times to send email are 10:00 AM or between 8:00 PM and midnight; the best days are Thursday and Sunday.

Texting:

  1. Funny top 10:TOP 10 REASONS PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO YOUR TEXTS

[1] The person really doesn’t like you.

[2] They are getting back at you for ignoring one of their text messages.

[3] They find your text message dialogue really boring and are on social media looking for something better to distract themselves with.

[4] They are playing mind games with you, full well knowing that by keeping you waiting for a response will cause you bitter frustration and they get a kick out of it.

[5] They are lazy and don’t respect you enough to respond to you.

[6] Very rarely, but some times, their battery dies. This is usually an excuse……go back to reason number 5.

[7] Some people work for a living, get off their back! They are WORKING… smarten up, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

[8] They just installed the new iOS and lost all their contacts (yes, even your precious contact info). They don’t recognize your number and are worried that your text might be from that person they gave their number to the night before.

[9] They are upset with you and decide to be passive aggressive with you instead of facing the problem head on up in a mature forward thinking fashion.

[10]… and finally… did you actually check to see if you pressed send after you finished writing your emotionally charged message? This is the worst feeling ever and really makes you look at yourself as a super self-centered individual, realizing that you are the only one to blame for getting all upset over nothing.

  1. 50% of the world has an email account. 86% USA 17% read more than 3 second/per.
  2. 97% who have cel phone carry them with them. 62% ignore half of their text
  3. How long before we begin speaking in response? 200 milliseconds

THE NEED FOR ONE THING

The one thing is being connected to God. We do this in many ways, but its the one thing.

Mary is choosing to focus and listen

Martha is choose to control, prepare, define, assume, look from martha’s perspective and not Jesus’s

CHOOSING The BETTER PART

The better part are the choices we make to be

  • unplugged from TV and politics,
  • unplugged from working when we need Sabbath Rest.
  • setting down the technology and to-do lists and listening to God so that we don’t miss God in our presence, in our homes, in our daily moments.

Action: moving toward God through worship, service, and devotion

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Study Notes for Amos 7:7-17 Who’s Plumb line do you use?

Posted by myoikos in #2019#mysundaysermons#rsumc on July 13, 2019

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by;  the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”  Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’ ” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there;  but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”  Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ “Now, therefore, hear the word of the Lord. You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ Therefore thus says the Lord: “Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’ “ [NRSV]

Amos the Unlikely

The first verse of this book identifies the author as “Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa” (1:1). Much has been made of the fact that Amos was a shepherd—a man more comfortable among the company of sheep than of people—an unsophisticated fellow, amazed and dazed by urban excess—a redneck, with a desire to tell the truth, even when his life is at risk.

Amos had a humble start, but he was authorized and equipped for the job because the Lord called him. It was Yahweh who took Amos from his flocks. It was Yahweh who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel”.

When and Where?

The first verse of this book also tells us when Amos served as a prophet. It was “in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (1:1). Uzziah and Jeroboam ruled in the eighth century B.C., and scholars believe that Amos had a relatively short ministry in the middle of that century—around 760-755 B.C.

At that time, the Jewish people were divided into the tribes of the northern kingdom (Israel) and the two tribes of the southern kingdom (Judah). It was the time between the end of Solomon’s reign (c. 930 B.C.) and the fall of the northern kingdom (c. 721 B.C.). Amos makes a place in our faith history as we read about his faithfulness today.

Only a few years after Amos’ prophecies, the Assyrians forced the ten tribes of Israel into exile in Assyria. Unlike the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the ten tribes of Israel never returned to their homeland in any organized way. Instead, they were assimilated and disappeared as a people.

The Jeroboam mentioned in the text was successful militarily, but “he did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh: he didn’t depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24).

We tend to think of Amos as a northern prophet, because his prophecy was directed primarily toward the northern kingdom (Israel)—but he was from Tekoa, a few miles south of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom (Judah)—and, as we will see in 6:1, he addressed both “those who are at ease in Zion” (the capital of the southern kingdom) and “those who are secure on the mountain of Samaria” (the capital of the northern kingdom).

Amos spoke against misplaced allegiance and religious arrogance. He warned the people of an upcoming military disaster that would reflect God’s judgment.

AMOS 7:7-9. THE PLUMB LINE

“Thus he showed me” (v. 7a). As is clear from verse 6, it is the Lord God who showed Amos a vision. The Plumb Line is the third in a series of five visions:

• The first vision (7:1-3) was a vision of locusts.
• The second vision (7:4-6) was a vision of fire.
• Now we have the third vision, a vision of a plumb line (7:7-9).
• The fourth vision (8:1-3) will be a vision of a basket of summer fruit.
• The fifth vision (9:1-4) will be of thresholds shaking and shattering on the heads of the people—and people being killed by the sword—a vision of inescapable judgment.

“the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand” (v. 7b). A plumb line is a string with a weight (known as a plumb-bob) attached. When the user holds a plumb line by the string, the plumb-bob at the bottom will point with great exactness to the earth’s center of gravity. People use plumb lines, even today, to determine whether a wall is perfectly straight, i.e., exactly perpendicular to the horizon. In other words, a plumb line enables the user to test the straightness of a wall. A plumb line hung from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa would confirm what our eyes already know. But the plumb line is more for noticing the small errors that lead to big mistakes.

A crooked wall can be difficult to correct. In many cases, an out-of-plumb wall must be torn down and rebuilt if it is ever to be right.

A Test of the Wall? Is sound for its intended purpose?

Now Amos sees Yahweh standing beside a wall with a plumb line in his hand. Yahweh’s purpose is to test the wall to see if it is straight or not—usable or not. We sense, of course, that Yahweh is concerned with something more than a wall. The next verse will make clear the real nature of his concern.

“Yahweh said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel’” (v. 8a). Now Yahweh explains the meaning of the plumb line metaphor. Israel (the northern kingdom) is the wall that is being tested.

While the next verse will make it clear that Yahweh has pronounced the people of Israel guilty and plans to execute judgment against them—nevertheless, in this verse, he calls them “my people.” God is not pleased with this.. It is a broken-hearted Lord who has tried and tried to bring these people to faithfulness, but who is finally having to admit that it just didn’t work.

“I will not again pass by them any more” (v. 8b). The northern kingdom (Israel) has been in existence for nearly two centuries—since the end of Solomon’s reign and the division of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms. With regard to the northern kingdom, there have been ups and downs, but mostly downs. Yahweh has given them opportunity after opportunity to repent and mend their ways, but they have failed to do so. Now Yahweh has decided not to “pass by them” any further—not to shower grace upon grace any longer. The time has come to put an end to their corruption, once and for all.

“The high places of Isaac will be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waste” (v. 9a). The high places were sacred sites dedicated to the worship of pagan gods. Old Testament references to high places are uniformly negative (Leviticus 26:30; Numbers 33:52; 2 Samuel 1:19; 1 Kings 3:2-3; 12:31-32; 13:2, 32-33; 14:23, etc.), because worship at the high places was inconsistent with the worship of Yahweh.

The “high places of Israel” were temples established by Jeroboam I in Bethel (in the far south of Israel, just a few miles north of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah) and Dan (in the far north of Israel). Jeroboam I feared that, if his people were to continue going to Jerusalem to worship, they would soon form loyalties to Judah (where Jerusalem was located) and overthrow Jeroboam in favor of Rehoboam, the king of Judah. “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look and see your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. This thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan” (1 Kings 12:28-30).

“and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (v. 9b). Yahweh will bring a violent end to the house of Jeroboam. This will come to pass when Shallum, son of Jabesh, conspires against Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, strikes him down and assumes the throne (1 Kings 15:8-10).

After the first two visions, Amos begged for mercy (7:2, 5), and in each of those instances, Yahweh relented (7:3, 6). However, in this third vision, Amos makes no such plea and Yahweh shows no signs of relenting. Presumably, Amos has seen the righteousness of Yahweh’s judgment and no longer has the heart to protest Israel’s punishment.

When Others Revile You.. AMOS HAS CONSPIRED AGAINST YOU

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel,
saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel.
The land is not able to bear all his words.

11 For Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.’”

“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words’” (v. 10). Amaziah is the priest of Bethel—one of the “high places of Israel” established by Jeroboam I (see comments on v. 9a above).

What we heard in verses 7-9 were the words that Yahweh spoke to Amos. We have no record of Amos speaking to the people, but verse 10 makes it clear that Amos has been telling people what Yahweh said—warning them of the judgment to come. Amos would have done so, not out of personal pique, but because Yahweh told him, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (7:15). His purpose would have been to secure the people’s repentance and, perhaps, to stave off the worst of the judgment which Yahweh is about to impose.

The priest, Amaziah, has become aware that Amos has been preaching to the people, and interprets Amos’ words, not as prophecy, but as sedition against Jeroboam. There is an element of self-interest involved in Amaziah’s report to the king, because it was almost certainly Jeroboam who appointed Amaziah to his priestly position (1 Kings 12:31; 13:33).

Amaziah sends word to Jeroboam concerning Amos’ preaching, slanting his report to portray Amos, not as a prophet, but as a traitor. The fact that Amos came from Judah rather than Israel made this a believable charge.

Amaziah’s report reflects his loyalty to Jeroboam, his desire to curry the king’s favor, and a desire to hang onto his comfortable sinecure in Bethel. But above all, Amaziah’s report makes it clear that his first loyalty is to the king rather than to Yahweh.

“For Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land’” (v. 11). This report is fairly consistent with Yahweh’s words to Amos, but it deviates at two points. First, Yahweh said that it would be the “house of Jeroboam” (7:9) rather than Jeroboam personally who would die by the sword. As noted above, it will be Jeroboam’s son who dies by the sword. Second, this is the first mention of the people going into exile.

Like Scar in the Lion King, Leave and never come back.

YOU SEER, GO, FLEE AWAY!

12 Amaziah also said to Amos, “You seer, go,
flee away into the land of Judah,
and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 but don’t prophesy again any more at Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary,
and it is a royal house!”

“Amaziah also said to Amos, “You seer, go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there” (v. 12). The word “seer” is roughly synonymous with “prophet,” although it might have carried a negative connotation.

Amos is from Judah, so Amaziah tells him to go home to Judah and earn his keep there. Amaziah’s assumption that Amos is profiting financially from his prophecy is surely influenced by the fact that Amaziah is profiting from his priesthood. However, Amos isn’t prophesying for profit. He makes his living by serving as “a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees” (v. 14).

“but don’t prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a royal house” (v. 13). There is a turf issue here. Bethel and its sanctuary belong to King Jeroboam—and, by extension, to Amaziah, the king’s priest. If there is religious work to be done here, Amaziah considers it his privilege to do it.

Amos Confirming His words is God’s message to God’s people

14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
neither was I a prophet’s son;
but I was a herdsman and a farmer of sycamore figs;

15 and Yahweh took me from following the flock,
and Yahweh said to me, ‘Go,
prophesy to my people Israel.’”

“Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son’”  The high priest is trying to make Amos out to be a for-profit, prophet.

“but I was a herdsman, and a farmer of sycamore figs” (v. 14b). Amos goes on to make it clear that he is a simple man who makes his living as a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees.

The Core of a Prophet’s Message: LISTEN TO THE WORD OF YAHWEH!

16 Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh:
‘You say, Don’t prophesy against Israel,
and don’t preach against the house of Isaac.’

17 Therefore thus says Yahweh:
‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be divided by line;
and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean,
and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.’”

“Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh: ‘You say, Don’t prophesy against Israel, and don’t preach against the house of Isaac’” (v. 16). Yahweh told Amos to prophesy (v. 15), but the priest Amaziah tells him not to prophesy.

In doing this, Amaziah is attempting to countermand Yahweh’s commandment. He is presenting Amos with a stark choice—obey the priest or obey Yahweh. From the context, we can see that this is not a difficult choice for Amos. Amos will obey Yahweh.

“Therefore thus says Yahweh: ‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by line; and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land’” 

  • Whereas Amaziah the priest has given his first loyalty to the king rather than to Yahweh—
  • and whereas Amaziah the priest has failed to call the people of Israel to faithful service to Yahweh—
  • and whereas Amaziah the priest has attempted to countermand Yahweh’s commandment—
  • therefore, Yahweh has decreed that these five punishments will follow.
  • Amaziah’s wife will become a prostitute. While it is possible that she would suddenly take on a degenerate character, it is more likely that she would become a prostitute once her husband and children were taken from her. Left on her own, she would have few options to support herself. For the wife of a priest to become a prostitute would be a great humiliation for both wife and priest.
  • Amaziah’s sons and daughters will die by the sword. While Amos doesn’t provide further details, we know that the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser, captured a number of Israelite cities and carried their people into exile (2 Kings 15:29). Then, when Hoshea, the last king of the northern kingdom, rebelled against Assyria, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria for three years. The city finally fell in 722 B.C., and many of its people were killed and the rest were taken into exile. Amaziah’s sons and daughters could have been killed in any of these conflicts, but most likely died when Samaria fell
  • Amaziah’s land will be parceled out when he is exiled.
  • Amaziah will die in an unclean land—Assyria.
  • Israel will go into exile in Assyria.

These five punishments, taken together, cut off all possibility of hope for Amaziah. Because he gave his first loyalty to the king and opposed the word of Yahweh, he will lose everything—family, property, status, and finally, his life. Once the Lord executes these judgments, Amaziah will know nothing but slavery, poverty, loneliness, and humiliation.

Today we turn to an 8th century BC prophet named Amos. Amos was a shepherd tending sheep in southern Judah. He was also concerned for the poor in his community and he tended a sycamore tree, which yields an inferior type of fig which was part of the diet of the poorest people at that time. But Amos saw something that disturbed him very much. So he went to Israel with a desire to confront the king.

The Lord gave Amos three visions of what could happen to Israel.

  • In the first vision the Lord was sending locusts, just as their later crops began to sprout. This would devastate their food supply starving the people and destroying the nation. But Amos prayed that the people of Israel would be spared, and the Lord relented.
  • In the second vision Amos saw the Lord covering the land with fire that would evaporate the oceans and devour the land. And again Amos prayed for Israel and the Lord relented.
  • In the third vision Amos saw the Lord judging Israel and sentencing King Jeroboam to death. After this vision of judgment Amos did not pray and the Lord did not relent. Why?

Bethel is a Hebrew word which means “the house of God”. It was a place where God comes close to earth to interact with his people. In other words Bethel was a holy place, a location set aside for God’s use, a sanctuary.

We are told that Bethel was first discovered by the patriarch Jacob. He was fleeing from his brother Esau and one night as the sun was setting he found an ancient shrine and used one of the stones as a pillow. That night he had a remarkable dream that the Lord had come near with a great promise. When Jacob woke up he thought that this place was somehow a gateway to heaven. It was a place where God had come near to his people. So he called it Bethel, the house of God.

Today we are worshiping in a Bethel. This is a sacred place, through worship, we come close to God. That makes this spot holy, set aside for God’s purposes, a sanctuary. 

Centuries later Amos went to the same spot where Jacob had encountered God, the holy place, the sanctuary, called Bethel. And there he delivered to the priest of Bethel the frightening message of God’s judgment. But rather than praying to God in this sacred space the priest, Amaziah, prayed to his king accusing Amos of treason. And then Amaziah told Amos to leave because prophets were not welcome in the King’s sanctuary. So what had been a sacred house of God had been turned into a possession of the King, and this was the reason God had condemned the King and his kingdom to death and destruction.

The sin of Jeroboam and his priest was the sin of idolatry. Rather than worshiping God in God’s house they were worshiping other gods. Of course the priest, Amaziah would deny this. If we could ask him he would argue that the proper worship of the Lord, the God of Israel, was taking place at Bethel. But Amos knew differently. The nation was worshiping not God but the kingdom’s power and prosperity. The people knew the commandments of God to care for the poor and the needy, but they spent their money on ivory furniture imported from Africa, polished stone homes that glistened in the sunlight, and gourmet beef from the cows of Bashan. They knew that their faith should be in the Lord, but they were more confident in the strength of their armies and the alliances they had made with neighboring countries. They put their trust in money and power rather than in the God who had protected them in times past. And they were doing these things, worshiping other gods, worshiping money and power, right there in Bethel, God’s house.

God sent an unlikely person, a poor shepherd from somewhere down south. He had no qualification as a seer or prophet. But he knew the word of God. And he saw the decay that was happening in his society. He realized that the idolatry of money and power would lead to the nation’s destruction. So Amos traveled north to God’s house, Bethel, with a message of judgment. This holy place, set aside for God’s use, would be given over to the enemies of Israel. Their women would be violated, their children killed, and a remnant would be carried into exile, all because they had stopped worshiping God in God’s house.

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Psalm 66:1-9 “When We Slip”

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on July 6, 2019

Psalm 66:1-9 When we do slip and fall..

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you. All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah. Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations– let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah. Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip. [NRSV]

Selah: A side note on the word

This Psalm contains two of the seventy-four occurrences of this this word through the whole collection of Psalms. The exact meaning and purpose of ‘selah’ are not certain, but the educated guess is some earlier Hebrew instruction to the choir or those who played instruments in worship.

One tradition holds that some musical selection was played to emphasis and set apart the words for dramatic impact. Another was that the choir or congregation would speak or recite a memory verse of the day, season or tradition of those who were worshipping. For example, if we joined the choir and sang the first seven words of Fanny Crosby’s ‘Amazing Grace’ every time someone said the word ‘grace’ it would draw the congregation together in the worship when those points of emphasis were noted.

We draw attention to this only because in this passage the word SELAH is offered in two places. First at the words: “Sing Praises to your Name” and secondly “let the rebellions not exalt themselves,” so I this case, a moment of pause and emphasis refer to a reversal: Stand up when you say Praise, and Sit down to express contrition, humility and reverence. In this way it is the emphasis of the crowd standing and sitting for the camp song: “Praise Ye The Lord!” and the response “Halleujah!” So wether sitting or standing, singing or listening to music, the SELAH is a note to be attentive, and participate in the reading, hearing and living of God’s word.

God is Great. God is Good. Ps 66

  • Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
    • sing the glory of his name;
    • give to him glorious praise.
  • Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    • Because of your great power,
  • your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth worships you;

  • they sing praises to you,
  • sing praises to your name.” Selah.

Come and See What God has done:

  • he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
  • He turned the sea into dry land;
  • they passed through the river on foot.
  • There we rejoiced in him,
  • who rules by his might forever,
  • whose eyes keep watch on the nations–
  • let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah.

Bless our God,

  • O peoples,
  • let the sound of his praise be heard,
  • who has kept us among the living,
  • and has not let our feet slip.

What about those of us who’ve slipped?

The Psalms are a great resource for learning how to praise God. They are filled with joy and sadness, frustration and peace, devotion and disobedience.

Psalm 66 is primarily about praise God, but what about those who are not praising God?

When you see and hear other people who are speaking hate, greed, pride, rage, selfishness, temptation, or any other witness of sin and evil: What do we say to help our brother or sister find their words and actions are leading away from God, harm to themselves, others or all of the above?

The answer is in the Psalm itself.

First, There are two pauses for reflection, Selah, Selah and some help from the choir, praise team or congregation.

Our cue is to draw on more resources than our selves. Our tendency when confronting evil, sin, or any division is to remain silent and unattached, OR we try to fight fire-with-fire. Ps 66 draws us to draw on our resources, AND

Second, we begin to focus on God’s goodness, greatness and story. My story is one of selfishness, emptiness, loneliness, greed, disappointment, anxiety, fear and frustration. But that is the story that is simply MY story.

When the story of how God has worked in my life and how God is working in my life, the story becomes God’s might works and power through me.

The Big Shift Leads to the Fall

From the beginning, when we twist God’s words, seek to rely on our own ideas, our own identity, our own correctness, our best interest, we quickly move away from God.

God doesn’t slip, we are the ones who fall away.

God is ready to claim us back when we repent, when we admit our lack of trust, when we affirm we don’t know it all, when we don’t know what is best. When find our joy and happiness in God we find what it means to be whole, loved, and complete.

The Power of Sin is greater than all I have, and it will never Give me what God has for me.

The greatest Grace and work God has done for me is to give himself on the cross and conquer sin and death and share that gift with me. It is the mighty work that we sing and shout and retell to a broken and searching world.

We come to the table today to be made whole, to start fresh, to ask God to be the mighty leader, healer, builder, who comes to restore, lead, make whole, and create in us the right and goodness God desires for us to know.

In this heart and state we have Great Good News of God’s work through us for a hurting world. “While we were yet sinner, Christ died for us.” Even when we were running away from God, God runs out to meet us with love and Grace. Give yourself to anew to Christ today!

Join us the Lord’s table.

Archive for June, 2019

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 What Mantle Will You Pass Along?

Posted by myoikos in #2019#encouragement#mantlesoffaithfulness#passingthetorchinheritance on June 29, 2019

Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. [NRSV]

What Mantle Are you leaving?

  1. The prophet Elijah is leaving the work to Elisha.
    1. “It will take two of me to equal one of you.”
  1. Inheritance vs. Passing the Torch
    1. Money and possessions are valuable
    2. How to use these resources is most valuable.
  2. What is a Mantle
    1. The touch-point of the witness of faithfulness.
  3. What to hand on to the next generation?
    1. Letters, stories, photos. or songs
    2. Art, crafts, textiles, or garments.
    3. Tokens, Tools, Table, or

Samples of Mantles that have shaped me and my faith:

  • Pocket Watch – Story of Family and Generations of faith
  • Cheese Biscuit Recipe – love of cooking and feeding people
  • Guitar – love of music and craftsmanship
  • Round Kitchen Table – Everyone has a place at a round table
  • Bible – Treasure of knowledge
  • 6oz Coke – Less is More

What is we leave nothing?

The next generation will have to start fresh with our mistakes and their own.

Not assuming that the next generation will figure out what our mantle means, we have to attach the meaning and lesson to the token itself.Advertisements

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Luke 8:26-39 What have you Done for me Lately?

Posted by myoikos in #2019#deviledham#gotell#rsumc#setfree on June 22, 2019

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. s20190623

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”– for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. [NRSV]

This is a long story in comparison to the parables of Jesus

The wild and crazy guy, let’s call him Steve (1980s ref)

Is known by the towns people as the wild, crazy, possessed dangerous beast outside of town.

This beast was somewhat under the spell of many demons. And Jesus comes to set him free. By showing love for the unloved man he becomes Jesus’s disciple and follower.

The towns folks had been afraid of the beast. They had tried to chain him but he was stronger than thief restraints.

His condition has been explained away by some that he suffered from mental illness. But that negates Jesus’s conversations with the host of demons in the store.

There is a clear message that evil was not removed from the world but certainly the man was now free from the power of evil because of Jesus.

This is where the story begins to be about Jesus for us as well.

Once we have given Christ the evil that controls, tempts and taunts us over to God we become a new person, even though evil remains a threat near by.

The pigs, known to be unclean, in Jewish food guide are the requested target of the demons. Now deviled ham on the run. Evil Long’s to be at home in what is ungodly and unclean.

Just as the prodigal son recognizes his place is with the father and not the pigs, so the man who was possessed by evil is also restored through God’s work in Jesus Christ.

The response of having been at the feet of Jesus is:

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

As we come to the table to for communion we eat what is not a boy clean but bread and cup that give new life.

The power of this whole store is in what happens after the man is man new, restored, made clean or whole:

He wants to stay in the easy comfort of Jesus feet, but is challenged to

1. Return home

2. Remember what God ha done in your life

3. Tell everyone how much God has done for you

Here is the place of homework.

When we leave this place of familiarity and comfort of worship we go into a world where evil continues to thrive and we are charged to tell the world what God ha done for us personally.

What has God done for me lately?

God has heard prayers for healing

God has heard prayer Sid frustration and doubt answering we hope and blessing

God has heard prayers of worry and uncertainty and is bringing hope and peace

God has heard cries of loss and division and is opening doors of restoring and making us knew

God has heard prayers from the lonely and answered with friendships, covenants and new partnerships

God continues to set us free

God continues to call out evil

God continues to restore us to faithful, even in a evil time

God calls his people to trust his power and grace to overcome sin, fear, anger, greed, lust, shame, and more

Our homework is to leave ready to tell everyone what Hod ha done for you

Practice – what is one thing God has done for you this year?

Not just a decade ago, or a couple of millennial ago, but what has God doing lately

If nothing comes to mind, then maybe you are feeling chained up, possessed by something or someone else. Today is a day to ask Jesus to break those things that keep us divided, afraid, alone, lost in sin. Today is a day of freedom, renewal and proclaiming God’s News For the world to see and hear.

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Romans 8:14-17 Heirs of the Holy Spirit

Posted by myoikos in #2019#holyspirit#pentecost#unitedinchrist on June 8, 2019

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

[NRSV]

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Genesis 11:1-9

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the LORD said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Scattered by our own sin and pride

Gathered to worship and praise in the Holy Spirit

Why? God desires we be united in spirit.

The things that divide us:

  • Wealth
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Politics
  • Geography
  • Agenda
  • Opinions
  • All the things that divide us are physically
  • It is spiritually we find ourselves one in Christ is in the Holy Spirit

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Revelation 22:12-21 Come, Drink the Water

Posted by myoikos in #2019#come on June 1, 2019

“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. [NRSV]

Some of the most stern words of John’s Revelation of Christ.

First a contextual note:

When this was records, and biblical scholars give a range of dates around 90-100 AD which would make the closing admonition concerning “the book” related to the specific book of John’s Revelation and not referring to the Bible as a whole. Even though many people read this it is more like the conclusion of Daniel’s vision, except Daniel’s vision was sealed and John’s remains unsealed. Which means it is for both the church then and the church today.

Secondly, This vision if from John who is a religious prisoner, held on the island of Patmos, and is not likely to be the same as the author of John’s Gospel, as he would be recorded as such and the difference in age, 70-80 years, makes it most unlikely to be the same person. This is also confirmed in the difference of vocabulary and style of the author of the John’s Gospel.

We are reading the end of the story. It is the finial scene in the grand pageant of “The Apocalypse of Jesus” is a better name than the “The Revelation to John of Patmos”. This, finally, brings the need to learn a non-biblical word, Apocalypse. Websters: “the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom.” calamitycataclysmcatastrophedebacle (also débâcle)disastertragedy

After the Apocalypse: At the end of this letter, this collection of visions is the final bookend of the cataclysm and catastrophe between ‘now’ and Christ’s return, during his remaking of heaven and earth as well as after.

The Bookends.

We began with a warning to individual churches, the bookend with a final warning to all church, all living to be in Christ. We look in the rear view mirror at the revealed sights, portents, visions and accounts of heaven and are left with final words.

Again these final words are the most stern.

  • 1. A call for baptism – be washing
  • 2. Drink – for all who thirst
  • 3. Do these because there will be those who don’t.

The stern part in revealed in those who are outside heaven. So many verses and repetitive images of Christ at the center and the multitude of those around the throne, but these final verse look outside the gate, and find a motley crew.

Those on the wrong side of Good and Evil:

  • 1. Dogs and –
  • a. Not a statement about animals in heaven,
  • b. Is a statement about fall teachers. Jesus parables and teaching refer to those who lead others
  • astray are like dogs and would be better to wear millstone necklaces.
  • 2. Sorcerers and
  • a. Those who search for power other than the power and workings of God and the Holy Spirit
  • 3. Fornicators and
  • a. Those who prefer to trample fidelity, trust and seek to satisfy physical needs OVER spiritual health.
  • 4. Murderers and
  • a. Those who do not value life, nor the work to find community with God’s children.
  • 5. Idolaters, and
  • a. Those who place wealth and possessions above God. Or those who identify themselves by
  • what they have rather than whose they are.
  • The One we don’t like on the list – (The catch all that might include the rest of us.)
  • 6. Everyone who loves and practices falsehood
  • a. Those who do not find truth in God. This is the most encompassing one.
  • b. This is not about isolated behaviors nor events, but the daily practices.
  • c. Do we love the comfort of routine over the challenge to mature in faith?
  • (I’ve already figured that out and I’m done having my foundation rattled or threatened.
  • d. Don’t question my faith or faithfulness I’m right and I know it.
  • e. as well as, those who say: Go along with the crowd, with logic, with

The plumb line measure

  • If we value our stuff more than God’s call to come,
  • If we want every physical comfort over God’s love
  • If we value our lives more than anyone else
  • If we want our will, power, authority, idea, ahead of God,
  • If we love fitting in with the crowd for convenience
  • If we lead others astray by our actions and words or our in-action and silence.

These are the reasons that we don’t place Jesus on the throne of our lives daily and eternally.

What we do now is what we will do in heaven.

Our only hope

remains in Jesus Christ.

Finally, these parting words are the invitation to “Come”

I believe that after all is said and done in the rapture, through the judgment, through the new heaven and earth, we are stubborn folks. (We prove this here on earth, why will that be different in heaven?)

I believe with all my heart that God’s grace remains open, the gates are open, and the father runs out to the end of the road and meets us to welcome the prodigal home, but some siblings, some people, some of us will question, doubt and disagree with God and will “REMAIN OUTSIDE the HOUSE” (LK 15:11-32)

Hear the call today,

  • “COME” to Jesus,
  • come to hope,
  • come to grace,
  • come to find your thirst quenched
  • come to find you heart at peace
  • come to find life from your grief
  • come to find forgiveness from your sin
  • come to find fellowship with God’s children
  • come to find home in the heart of God.

God is waiting and they questions is why do we live 1 second without him first in our heart and mind?

Why?

We believe we have more second to spare.

I tell you

There is no need to

  • be outside,
  • outcast
  • out of hope
  • out of help
  • out of reach
  • out of sorts
  • out of line
  • out of love
  • nor out of time.

Prayer of confession and a prayer of acceptance and reaffirmation

This is what we need and this is what we share:

  • Who is among us that needs to reaffirm today?
  • Who is will we see, meet, experience TODAY that needs to hear that invitation to COME
  • Who will God place in our lives this week to share this joy and life
  • Who will not be with us in a short time, in the blink of an eye?

The urgency is not in the second coming, the urgency is in all the seconds we live without God creating hope in this world through us.

The second and minutes, hours and day, weeks and years of seconds

The Christ is not on the throne of our hearts

The seconds and decades we struggle with the power and guide of the Holy Spirit.

The invitation is for us.. COME

  • Come the faith
  • Come the throne
  • Come to the heart
  • Come to Christ’s
  • Come to the fountain
  • Come to the spring
  • Come to the river of live and drink, live, and thrive.

Archive for April, 2019

Revelation 1:4-8. All our cards in God’s Hand

Posted by myoikos in #2019#easter#evil#godshand#holyspirit on April 28, 2019

Look! He is coming with the clouds;

John 20:19-31

When 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. [NRSV]

Revelation 1:4-8

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. [NRSV]

Acts 5:27-32

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” [NRSV]

Psalm 118:14-29

The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. [NRSV]

Today we look at the introduction to John’s Revelation to be reminded of Easter. Reminders?

We have not forgotten Easter, it was last week silly. Then why do we have half the number of people here this week?Someone for got to expect Jesus or we were celebrating something else or we ended up letting folks off the hook in a weeks time:

Look! He is coming with the clouds

The Book of John’s Revelation is

a letter of

• proclaiming,

• warning and

• worship.

It is book of

• promises,

• signs and

• portents

It is message of

• challenge,

• instruction and

• remembering

• It is also an apocalyptic exclamations the end of the paragraph of scripture

! BAM !

John

to the seven churches that are in Asia: [All churches listen up]

Grace to you and peace

from him [Father]

• who is and

• who was and

• who is to come, and

from the seven spirits [HOLY SPIRIT]

• who are before his throne, and

from Jesus Christ, [Son]

• the faithful witness,

• the firstborn of the dead, and

• the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him [Who we are in relation to God the Father, son, HS]

• who loves us and

• freed us from our sins

• by his blood, and

• made us to be a kingdom,

• priests serving his God and Father,

to him [Our motivation, reason, purpose and time line to act]

• be glory and

• dominion

• forever

• and ever. Amen.

Look!

He is coming

with the clouds;

every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and on his account

all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be.

Amen.

“I am

the Alpha and the Omega,”

says the Lord God,

who is and

who was and

who is to come,

the Almighty. [NRSV]

We have been looking for Jesus for months in preparation for Easter and we still

live in a world filled with evil and we

Don’t have every thing covered and figured out

We are still living in the waiting

Are we living expecting to fight evil today?

Are we living allowing our emotions guide us

Are we living allowing our logic and rules to give us meaning

Are we living allowing the God of all be God of all of our living ?

“Well no”

Them then it is still time to be looking upward.

Living as Easter people means that we look to God in the face of evil in this world.

Evil in our hearts. Evil in our minds. Evil in our excuses

Our call to be all in…. no more holding our cards, but living in God’s hand.

Easter People Spread the News

Posted by myoikos in #2019#easter on April 20, 2019

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; she told them that he had said these things to her. [nrsv]

Here the Good News of the Resurrection!

  • The Tomb was empty
  • Jesus Has Risen
  • We have no need to weep or fear
  • Tell the others the Good News

Since the first Easter, What has the resurrected Jesus been doing?

For 2000 years we have been waiting for his return while we have been wondering in the wilderness waiting for the arrival. 

  • As the world is divided our hearts are united in God’s love
  • As the world fights over politics we are given ourselves to service
  • As the world longs for wealth, entertainment, we have remained focused on Jesus
  • As the world changes with the winds of emotion and distraction, we continue to find our strength and guidance in the Holy Spirit.
    • We are supposed to learn from the faith journey of Israel in the wilderness.
    • We are supposed to be inspiring the faith for the generations to follow.
    • We are supposed to be trusting God to lead, provide and direct our way.
    • Why does it take so long?

Easter becomes our immigration into the People of God.

As citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven we are called and live as witnesses to the strength, hope and love of God…

  • We are called to praise Jesus
  • We are called to follow the Spirit
  • We are called to serve the world as Jesus
  • We are called to be faithful to God’s word spoken in our hearts and through our lives

Let this Easter be the time that we empty our bodies, minds, and spirits from what leads to death and destruction and can now:

  • breathe in the breath of the Holy Spirit
  • taste the bread of life daily
  • smell the fragrance of hope
  • hear the word of the Lord
  • and touch the heart of God as we touch the lives of those who are filled with empty fullness.

What’s the Big Deal about Easter?

It is the gift of God that is the greatest of them all and it is given to us all

Jesus Christ who died for our sins, has overcome death for himself and for us

There is nothing that has to separate us from the love and life of God..

While God does not ever stop loving us, 

We are those who place others things, people, values, hopes, dreams, faith, belongings, etc in the place of God’s resurrection gift.

If God has given us life to live for him, why spend it on ourselves?

What’s the big deal about Easter? 

  • It is confirmation that you and I are spiritual beings in physical bodies.
  • We are created in the image of God, by the heart of God, for God’s worship and pleasure.

What the big deal about Easter?

It is the assurance that the sin and fear and shame that we carry does not need to be our life’s work

Jesus gives his life that ours may be the fruit of the new heaven and the new earth

What’s the big deal about Easter?

It draws us together in the aftermath of the fire at Notre Dome in Paris and while we see the loss, we know the church is not the building, the church is the people of Jesus Christ at work in the world, revealing the Spiritual Power of God at work

Our celebration of Easter

  • has little to do with what it hidden in the yard and more of what is revealed in our worship
  • has little to do with what is empty in the our history and past, and more of what God is unfolding in our present and future
  • has little to do with being dressed us and dinners and more about clothing the naked and feeding the hungry
  • has little to do with holidays and more about allowing God to make holy our days and nights

We gather today not, with a moment to tell the good news of the old story of the Resurrection,

  • But more so we are gathered to give our thanks and praise for God’s promise being lived out through us.
  • But more so we are gathered to give ourselves to God in witness by sharing with the world what we have been holding onto ourselves.

The Christian church, Catholic and Protestant, Methodist and Baptist, Nondenominational and all the rest, have fewer members and believers in a declining roll for over 60 years (Yes there are churches and movements that are individually growing but as a whole body of believers we are not faithful to living out an Easter Faith to the world.

For nearly 2000 years the world has heard the story but where is the fruit of trusting the Resurrection?

Let this Easter be a claim and proclaiming of our faith Jesus and the resurrection..

We have been saved for a purpose, to be living witnesses of God.

  • In all our effort to cover our responsibilities
  • in our quest to get the most out of our numbered days
  • In our longing for meaning and searching to understand

Have we not fought the Holy Spirit more than followed?

Have not not remembered Jesus, but not spoken out for him?

Have not learned the Words but not allow God’s Word to speak through our actions?

Easter is the morning wake up call from the foggy illusion of our sin and creation.

  • God breaks open 
  • God sets us free
  • God finds the way
  • And comes to meet.. Go and tell all the others to meet us
    •   in Jersualem,
    •   in the place of worship
    •   in the dwelling of God,
    •   in the power of the Holy Spirit

So what what looks different in our lives by living as Easter People?

Easter people hear people afraid at the news about death and remember to share the eternal promise in Jesus Christ

  • Easter people hear the division in politics and model what it means to place our faith in God instead
  • Easter people hear the words of hurt and we call for works of healing
  • Easter people model service in a culture of being served
  • Easter people gather to worship when the world says you are foolish and out dated
  • Easter people look at the future and know that God who creates will make all things new
  • Easter people look at what we don’t have and know what to ask God to provide
  • Easter people sing with grunts and praise to remember and share what God has, is and will do.
  • Easter people live every Sunday as promise of the Resurrection
  • Easter people follow the Holy Spirit as spiritual beings in Christ
  • Easter people are not perfect, but are made whole through Jesus Christ

This why Easter is our biggest gift, our best deal and when we life for Christ today. Go live as people of the resurrection, alive in Christ for all the world around us!

Easter Sunrise 2019 Isaiah 65 Our New Day in Christ

Posted by myoikos in #2019#easter#jesus#resurreciton#rsumcatonementEasterPassionate WorshipResurrection People on April 20, 2019

Isaiah 65:17-25

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. [nrsv]

  • Jerusalem as a Joy?
  • People will be a delight?
  • No more weeping and no more distress?
  • No more infant deaths or those whose life is cut short?
  • Those who work will receive the benefits of their own labor?
  • No injustice in wealth and home for all?
  • No labor in vain, (note not a absence of work)
  • Wolf and the lamb will feed together but not on each other
  • Lion and the ox will eat straw
  • Serpent will eat the dust… \
  • Though without war

God is building a new heaven and a new earth.. will we recognize it when we get there? 

As we gather early on Easter’s sunrise we remember God is creator

  • In the Big Inning, God makes all things
  • In Christ, Changes the whole world,
  • By the Holy Spirit, God is guiding us toward the New Jerusalem, that we might lead the world to God, through Christ.

In the New Jerusalem, there is not hurt, pain, suffering or injustice, but even the serpent has a place

evil, pride/selfishness, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, and envy are no longer needed.

Think of the power of these forces in our world and in our lives

What would it take to no longer behave these ways?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

There is not other power, no other answer, no other hope, no other way.

There are various camps;

  • Those who no longer care
  • Those who want to prove there is another way
  • Those who know Jesus is the way, but trust later
  • Those who are free in Christ now and forever. 

The prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah 

[The whole chapter]

1 I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6 See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8 Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny;12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my sight, and chose what I did not delight in. 13Therefore thus says the Lord God: My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; 14my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. 15 You shall leave your name to my chosen to use as a curse, and the Lord God will put you to death, but to his servants, he will give a different name. 16 Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight. 17 For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.20 No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. 24 Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

Why read from Isaiah at the Sunrise?

When the day is new we can better see the darkness of our past and hope of our future in the Word of God made new and whole through Jesus Christ, for us

  • May we invoke the blessing of this day
  • May we call on Jesus Christ to make this day new
  • May we trust Christ to overcome our sin and shame
  • May we speak God’s name and not our own
  • May the former things are forgotten
  • And the New Day in Christ is eternally on our lips and in our deeds.

Lk 19:28-40 Ps 118 “Prepare the Palms”

Posted by myoikos in #2019#palmsundayPraiseThanksgivingWorship on April 13, 2019

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.. [ Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.]

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Luke 19:28-40

After [Jesus] had said this, he went on ahead, 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.”

Outline:

• The Lord is God

• God has given us light

• Bind the path with branches all the way to the alter

• You are my God

• I will give you Thanks

• I will extoll you

Palm Sunday is the kickoff for welcoming Jesus into a harsh and hardened world

Have you ever wondered why people waves palm branches?

The Sunday school explanation has been that people grabbed the nearest thing as an impromptu banner of party decoration

I suggest that if you had a month to prepare for the return of Christ what would you do to be ready for his appearing in the heavens?

Come join us and let’s find out..

Isaiah 43:16-21 Do the New Thing

Posted by myoikos in #2019#newlife#newthingFaithsinnerTrustTruth on April 5, 2019

Isaiah 43:16-21

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. [NRSV]

  1. Remember What God Has done
  2. Forget the Past
  3. Trust God to Provide
  4. Do the New Thing: Live a Witness of Praise to God for all the world.

REMEMBER

One of the themes repeated throughout both the old and new testaments is the call for God’s people to remember. There is a call to learn the workings of God, and to remember the works of God, not only for our benefit or for God’s praise, but remember so that others can know and experience God’s works of love, strength, protection, and grace. 

a. Remember so you will know in times of personal trouble, when you feel lost or alone, remember where and how God has been found for thousands of years and through trillions of people.

b. Remember so that God will remain on your mind, in your emotions, on your lips, in your ears and in your tasting of life. Remember to praise God with all that we are

c. Remember so that generation will know. How easily our faith could be lost with just one generation failing to share or one generation of twisting the memory. The lesson of the wondering in the wilderness was the life practice of ensuring that two generations from your own are assured of knowing God because you and I are intentional of doing so. Remember we are called to the heart of God so that other will find the way through us. [Which begs the question: Who are the people that you are certain that your witness has lead and continues to lead to God in Jesus Christ?]

FORGET

The balance of remembering is that some things are not helpful to us and our relationship with God and one another and we also need to develop the ability to forget.

Have you ever wrestled with forgetting the sins of someone or do you hold them over for protection, prevention or punitive just-in-case circumstances?

a. Don’t remember the former life of slavery to sin. Don’t hang on to the hurt that others done nor the good others have neglected to do. Don’t blame the previous generation? Don’t blame the institutions, the structures and system – ONCE WE HAVE LEARNED the lessons for our past, let the pain, the judgement, the division be forgotten. 

b. Have we not all had some parent, grand, or maybe aunt or uncle try to motivate us to see how easy the next generation has it because of the hardships of the past. On one hand we MUST remember to respect what previous generations have done, endured and struggled through, that we now no longer have to deal with today. It is why we hold our elders in honor. But we can forget their complaints about doing. This act of forgetting has a double edge: on the one we must always retell how God has been faithful in generations past, but forget the idea that we did these great thing alone, by our own strength, our own will, our own resources.. for without God we are nothing.

c. Forget the hurt and remember the healing. Forget the disease and remember the loving. Forget the separation and remember the renewed unity. Again our call to forget comes AFTER we have learned from the past. But we will never fully know forgiveness, grace, new life, until we are fully forgive, extend genuine loving -kingness and celebrate new life at God’s banquet table. {23 Psalm ..you make a place for me, even in the presence of my enemies, you anoint, you bless, you provide for us all the days of our living.}

TRUST

How do we ever remember. I once preached a sermon in my preaching class for Dr Fred Craddock, the prince of all Preaching teachers in the second half of the 20th century if not beyond.  My point was that the first phone number I memorized with my grandmother’s home phone number. I declared that I would NEVER forget that number. That number lead me to someone who always, unconditionally loved me and God. It connected me across states and various dates to someone who had stories, songs, gifts, treasures for ever occasion. It connected me to family, faith, creativity, thriftiness, appreciation of beauty and creation. All I had to do is remember:  and I began to recite it as, 404.475.3244. But half way in I pulled a Barney Fife (recall how he could not think of the next word until Andy coached him through the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.) In my sermon on remembering I forgot my means of connecting.  Dr Craddock, interrupted and to remind me. Trust your notes and not your nerves. I promptly looked down at the pages and read the numbers I had most certainly had forgotten. 

Trust the notes and not my own weak-mindedness. Proverbs 3.5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

NEW THING

Verse six in the fifth Proverb takes us back the beginning of today’s Isaiah verse: God making a way for us. It is a historical call to do the new thing: ACTUALLY Remember God, Forget the brokenness of ourselves and others and Trust God, ACTUALLY do the thing we read about, talk about, sing about, dream about: Live a live showing the world what it means to trust God.

Living as poster-child for God. 

February 19, 1855, Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts senator, wrote his supporters about an enslaved 7-year-old girl (Mary Mildred Williams) whose freedom he had helped to secure. She would be joining him onstage at an abolitionist lecture that spring. “I think her presence among us (in Boston) will be a great deal more effective than any speech I could make,” the noted orator wrote. He said her name was Mary, but he also referred to her, significantly, as “another Ida May.” Sumner enclosed a daguerreotype of Mary standing next to a small table with a notebook at her elbow. She is neatly outfitted in a plaid dress, with a solemn expression on her face, and looks for all the world like a white girl from a well-to-do family. When the Boston Telegraph published Sumner’s letter, it caused a sensation. Newspapers from Maine to Washington, D.C. picked up on the story of the “white slave from Virginia,” and paper copies of the daguerreotype were sold alongside a broadsheet promising the “History of Ida May.” [cite:https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/enslaved-girl-americas-first-poster-child-180971444/]

The call of the prophet Isaiah calls out through history to the people of God, to you and to me: Are you living a faithful witness of trust God? The New Thing is the original things, but we hear and living a new today!

The answer Isaiah was looking for from the people in his day was, “NO!” Tell us how! Hear now comes the Good News! Jesus Christ lived and died to save sinner like us. Jesus emptied himself taking on the form of a servant and served us. The lamb the was slain became a life – sacrifice – payment – solution – redemption for us who could find no other way. Jesus said, “I am the way” 

Remember Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Forget our failures, excuses and weariness

Trust the presence of God that wait with a place for us at the table, even in the presence of our enemies,

TO DO THE THING that we have been called, saved, equipped and loved to do.

Love the Lord your God will all you have and let the world see God through you.

Archive for March, 2019

Joshua 5:9-12 When the Manna Stops

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on March 30, 2019

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year. [NRSV]

When dependable isn’t 

As much as the people complained about Manna being boring God did all the work 

God has something better

Our Part of God’s Work

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Psalm 27 “Faith Sleeping”

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#mysundaysermons#sleepinchurch; #sleep; #rest on March 16, 2019

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh– my adversaries and foes– they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, LORD, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! If my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me up. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! [NRSV]

Sleep is vitally important to our health and renewal of body and soul. Many folks have trouble sleeping or staying asleep for a variety of reasons, which makes it even more important to control the factor that we can influence.

Affirmation of God:

Many times we take the worries, stress, and fears into our sleep which can be seen in our racing minds, worried hearts and wrestles states. We begin our resting recognizing once again that God is at work in our situation.

Psalm 27 is a useful tool for maximizing our rest. Beginning with acknowledging God has our back and has our life, we can lay aside all things knowing God is with us.

  • The Lord is my Light
  • The Lord is my Salvation
  • I have NOTHING to Fear
  • The Lord is my Strength
  • The Lord is my Life
  • I have NOTHING to fear

This prayerful hymn begins with setting the stage with the focus on God. Rather than unloading the garbage of the day in a spiritual data dump, think of beginning sleep as an orienting prayer that places our attention and presence in God.

As a typical alternative, the TV or some screen is our light. Worries about money, debt and demands waiting for us at the break of day reveal our weakness. We hone-in our weariness, regrets and mind-reading of the day’s events and the projects of what tomorrow will bring.

Try the new model. Begin rest placing ourselves before God.

  • You are my light tonight
  • You are my meaning
  • You are my strength
  • You got me safe, I have nothing to fear, to worry, to distract, etc.

Naming the Struggle

After taking the time to place ourselves in the presence of God, then we ready to let go of what we have been holding. Some things we care are useful responsibilities, even though meaningful and good, can be stress for and tiring.

Some things are beyond our control. We live in the presence of evil. There are people, forces, organizations, ideologies, and the like that will sap up every bit of energy and attention, our health and our minds, even to the point of death.

There in the Psalm acknowledging of God’s place, our place and then the things and people who are encamped around us. So that even if we are in a good place with God there are things waiting to tempt, harm, challenged and confuse us.

A Reminder of Confidence

The model is to be confident in God in the face of evil. “I will be confident in ..asking God.” God let me live in your strength, light and love, all the days and nights of my life.

In our sleep it one of the most intimate times of being present with God. We might think it is the response to exhaustion or simple time for our bodies to rest and renew, but SLEEP can be a time to renew our trust and faith.

Some times we try doing things to distract or wear ourselves down to fall asleep. Most times we read a book or watch a show or screen we are overloading our minds to reach a point of auto-shutdown.

This Psalm consists of a hymn of faith, as all Psalms are, and it calls us to worship.

  • Naming the Joy in the world and in our experiences,
  • Singing songs of praise
  • Calling for Grace to surround and cover us
  • Seek to find God face to face, heart to heart.
    • Even if my family and friends can’t or won’t help, you are with me.
    • You are with, You have not given up on me.
  • Remind God and Ourselves how God might handle or show up in the responsibilities, threats, challenges, and work that awaits us. Anticipating the ways our faith will the renewed when God indeed helps us.
  •  

Hope:

Believing God’s Goodness will restore, heal, help, bless, lead, strengthen and give power in what awaits us.

Wait in the Lord (Hope in Practice)

Finally, trust that preparing for sleep to be more about God than ourselves, helps us to lay aside, even if for a few hours, to remember what we pick back up and what we face tomorrow will be good, because God is good, strong, and true.

Use Psalm : Some times we begin by reading and listening to word, When we take the pattern of Affirmation Who God is, Naming our struggles and anticipation how God will help us, Worshiping God for all God has done, and Rest in Hope.

Short List:

  • a. Make your sleep about God and not yourself
  • b. Name your worries and name of God might do with them
  • c. Name your struggles and anticipate what God will reveal
  • d. Name your fears and picture how God will use you.
  • e. Worship, remembering joy, singing songs and praise God
  • f. and wait on God to renew and revive us.

b.

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Our Response

Posted by myoikos in #respondtogodfirst fruitsPraiseresponsetithe on March 9, 2019

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.[NRV]

The People of God Response to the delivery of the Promised Land

The people were instructed to recite the story of the journey and struggle of who they were and who they had become.

This is a story of multiple generations and the summation of many stories. It is the before and after the Chip and Joann Gains ritual near the end of the show, right before the big reveal they tell where they started with a base, a dream and a plan. Looking the picture of the starting point come the… commercial.

So after the commercial is the reveal and response. Are you ready to see your dream home? your forever home? The most typical response is “Oh my God.” What in the world does this have to do with Deuteronomy and the Promised Land.

This passage calls for the people’s response to their new home in Canan, the prize over the Jordon, the Promised Land. When you arrive say these words or sing this song:

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall

  1. take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.

2. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”

When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God:

3. “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor;

4. he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien,

5. few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.

6. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors;

7. the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.

8. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

8. b. “Where are the forty years wandering in the wilderness?”

9. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.”

10: ACTION: You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God.

11: IN WOSHIP TOGETHER: Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.[NRV]

So What is this to us? We weren’t there?

This passage not only teaches us about the Hebrews entering the promised land it is a model of our PRAISE, Worship, and Celebration to God’s leading us:
Q: What had God brought us through to where we are today…think of the struggles, loses, failures, illnesses, divisions and look where we have come to this day..
God has loved us through the lean times

God has guided us thought our foolishness

God has blessed us when we didn’t have what we thought we needed or deserved,

Where are we now?

We have one another.We had breath of this day, this moment?

Think of the division of the nation, and the church these are signs that we all have forgotten the God is leading us. We have placed our trust in our own ideals instead of the heart and mind of God.

We are not in the Promised Land at the moment: We are lost and the world with us. BUT we need to remember where we are headed.

This is where we begin to remember were God has shown up before

and commit ourselves to looking for God to save us in this time.

We are called to gather in worship, praise and celebration of God’s work and not our own.

Let us share where God is showing up in our families and church family and retell the stories and introduce for those who have never heard or were unwilling to hear.

Our Response is to Remember, Retell and Celebrate God’s work in our generations and in our present

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2Cor 3:12-4:2 Engaged in a Ministry of Reflecting God

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#faithsharing#freedom#godisstrong, #godisableTransfiguration on March 2, 2019

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. [NRSV]

There are a variety of places and moments where I have come to know God most clearly:

Scripture and Songs

Birth and death

Mission travels

Glisson and Churches

Fellowship and Art

It is vital to cultivate the number of people places and moments that we more clearly see and experience God.

When we are in times and periods of drought it is helpful to have places to see reconnecting and renewal.

How to I find God revealed? Go looking where others have found God

Scripture

Mission

Spiritual disciples and practice

Worship and study

When we place ourselves as vulnerable and willing to know God we more clearly experience God

Unfortunately we hold on until we are in a mess, end of resources, spiritual or physically bankrupt that we are forced to be open to God.

So help by taking off the veil, removing the layers and be present before God:

Unveiled. Seeing truth > knowing the presence, reality of God

  • Hope,
  • power and
  • freedom in God

What we find in God is

  • the hunger of our spirit
  • The strength to move foreword
  • The freedom to trust and share

Being the nerdy trek fan I love to hear the captain say to the crew, “engage!”

  • Or make it so
  • The words in each day of creation were So be it,
  • These words declare authority and commitment as a call to action

God called Moses, spoke through Jesus and calls us to action and faith as well

Our ministry of reflecting God’s light, love and grace

  • Engaged I this ministry : do not loose heart
  • Renounce Shameful things:
  • Not falsify God’s word :

Rather —

Open statement of truth : speak and seek the truth

Commended ourselves : invest in connecting

to the conscience of everyone in God : awareness that God desires us all.

We draw to close the season of Epiphany with the call to use the gifts entrusted to us to be used to show the world

  • God work,
  • claim and
  • calling

Archive for February, 2019

Luke 6:27-36 Enemies of Love

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#havemercyonmeasinner#jesuslovesme#lovelikejesus on February 24, 2019

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” [NRSV]

Have you read this as the way God loves us?

This is where we learn how awesome God’s Love is all about

  • God listens to us
  • Give loves when we don’t,
  • God loves when hate
  • God blesses when we are not deserving
  • God speaks to us when we ignore God
  • God expects to be attacked
  • God expects to loose more to reach us
  • God expects to be asked for help
  • God is willing to sacrificed for us
  • God treat us the way God Hopes we will treat others
  • God expects loving to be difficult
  • God expect to help and not be helped,
  • God judges and loves us anyway
  • God forgives first

This love becomes the example for us

Those who love:

  • Listen to Christ
  • Love enemies,
  • Do good for those who hate
  • Bless those who judge you
  • Pray for your abuser
  • Expect to be attacked
  • Expect to loose your coat and shirt
  • Expect to be asked to help
  • Expect to loose your stuff
  • Treat others who you’d like to be treated in their situation
  • Expect love to be difficult
  • Expect to help and not be helped

The most impossible list.

We fail miserably!

What do we do when we have not loved as God loves?

This is where we learn how awesome God’s Love is all about

“God have mercy on me a sinner” is our best defense and starting place.

Start the day praying this prayer at the beginning, end and middle of everyday.

Love through me because on my own I cannot love. “I” can’t do it

But God can through us.

Jesus, Love me

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Luke 6:17-26 Woe! The world is upside down

Posted by myoikos in #2019#wowtotheblessed on February 17, 2019

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. [NRSV]

Woe to you who are Blessed, Blessed are those who are without.

Contrasting Matthew’s account of the Be-attitudes and Luke’s account as blessings and woes we have the differences of spiritual deprivation and material want.

So here Luke recounts a message of warning about faith. Rather heading this as a prescription list of do’s and don’ts, we have almost the punchline of a parable.

This seesaw of woe and bless is a lesson and warning to be people of faith and trust in Christ.

Quite simply, those who are hungry and thirsty have a different perspective on where to turn for wholeness or fullness. If you have nothing it is easier to see that what you need most is not something you can satisfy or supply yourself.

HUNGRY?

Those who are hungry are at a place of not being able to satisfy them selves and they know their own emptiness.

Remove your assumptions about political agenda about poverty as this is not spiritual word for governments it is directed toward disciples.

Disciples need to be asked where do you find your hunger a d thirst for want satisfied? In food? Drink? Wealth? Social position? Social identity?

THIRSTY?

If we who are spiritually empty going to attempt to fill our body’s will we find blessing? Is it temporary or eternal?

There is more:

In addition to physical needs Jesus places our emotions in the cross hairs

Woe to those who remain an emotional mess when Jesus is offering hope, peace and community.

If we are weeping from grief, jealousy or envy where will we find peace?

Are we look around and listen there is no shortage of weeping, hatred and exclusion. The remedy is not simply to toughen up, ignore those who persecute us and make our own group of like-minded films t comfort us. These are the world solutions.

Disciple First

Jesus is offering himself to the disciples first so that we may offer Christ to the world.

The core operation of the church is not to get people to confess Jesus. While that can be a measure of a starting point, Jesus is blessing the trust that follows belief.

  • Do you trust Jesus or your money
  • Do you depend on the worlds approval or being included in the kingdom
  • Do you think you can have your cake and the kingdom too

These woes are are not to the casual one who overheard the Gospel or those who received healing or feeding in the crowds.

Jesus is asking us as disciples:

  • how is God feeding you?
  • What do you thirst for, is it spiritual or physical
  • Are your emotions guiding your mind or is the Holy Spirit
  • Which s you value more belonging to the crowd or the party or the popularity the world attempts to offer or is Jesus enough

Woe to us if we are fooling ourselves.

We might convince ourselves but the world see through us

Are we expecting someone to spoon feed us or are we working to be fed through word, service, witness, worship, etc.

We are likely to prefer Matthews. Be-Attitudes to Luke’s woes because the warning is to us as believers more than it is to the world.

Jesus’s wors are to disciples AND the crowds, and the world

A Word and Witness to the World

The reason Jesus starts with disciples getting right side up is that we are sent to witness and encourage the rest of the world

What does the church have to offer a world that is divided, hurting and addicted to social media?

We are called to be a community of sinners seeking Christ as our strength and promise.

The blessing comes AS we share the journey.

It’s not that we perfect the life and then go out. That’s impossible.

But if we only eat and never feed we are not blessed, we are poor

If we satisfy ourselves and our neighbors thirst, weeps, is hated, or ignored then neither of us are blessed

The world says that money and politics and ideology are our blessing

Jesus says woe to those who hunger and thirst when those change, fail and go against the kingdom.

There is a challenge to take the discoveries of the 21st century and learn to relate the powerful blessing of Christ that are timeless. Much of the modern world’s theology is post-modern. A crazy term. I think the shorts definition is that so many believe they have outgrown religious life and are satisfied looking for fulfillment elsewhere.

If we are not strong in faith ourselves we have nothing to share with a world that has move past what it never found, trusted or resolved.

The debate splitting the denomination is evidence that the faithful lack a handle on being grounded in Christ, if we were we would not have been dragging our feet for forty four years on the same debate. It is our calling to place our trust in Christ and proclaim what we hold true by faith.

Share the blessing by sharing the journey, Christ in your heart and you heart given to those who hunger, thirst, weep and search for the heart of Christ through you.

Otherwise Jesus would have never needed disciples, that just how Christ works.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 The Greatest is the Hardest

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#lovelikejesusLoveMeaning on February 2, 2019

blancobello image: https://flic.kr/p/rxAQ2u

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

These verses are the definitive description of the extremes and expressions of love. Love is indeed the greater power. Love is the great gift. It is freely give, but requires all things to be fully experienced and shared. To be loved takes no effort on our part as the recipient. Yet, it means the most to make good on its reality.

What or Who do you love?

To love a thing, or an idea, or a goal, or a dream, is an impossible investment of love. To say I love donuts, mashed potatoes or country-fried steak may reveal a passion for carbohydrates, but these items will never return love to me.

I can more appropriately say I extremely enjoy the taste, experience of flavor of these items but to love them is to invest in something that can never return love, which will ultimately lead to an emptiness when the temporary fullness passes.

To say that I love my job, my house, my car or my hobbies is also a misinformed valuation. These treasures surely provide, means, space, access and interest in my life, but they will never have the capacity to complete the circuit of love I might try to bestow.

More than semantics, Love should be reserved and invested in persons and relationships that have the potential to love.

God loves us.

What does it say about US and about God, that God loves us enough to trade God’s-self for us on the cross?

God does no see us a objects in creation. We are more than bird, tree, day, night, snow days, or sunshine.

You are my Sunshine.. as important as sunshine is for light, warmth and vitamin D. The sun does not love us knows nothing of us although we depend on it continually. It is not the source of our being loved, but it is a gift from the one who does love us.

The Son, for love

God loves us enough to exchange our inability to return love, so we can love. Our society has doubled-down on being able to so definitely define and determine and self-declare every detail, label and category except for the most stubborn of them all: for example..

“Sinner”

Every human that has ever lived has failed to be loving, kind and worthy of the existence we have been born into. Even those in the most deplorable of conditions has value, chromosomes, living and multiplying cells of possibility that are not self-willed into being.

We are born into a world filled with every example of those who precede us with some level of brokenness, self-focused not compassionate moments, some more than others, and some we assume are continually so bent.

I have yet to have business card printed that state my name and underneath that name says sinner.

John Thomas Brantley: Sinner

I profess to this be true and claim it in my daily prayers, but I don’t introduce myself this way. Before I met Wendy, a host of friends, family and church members set me up with people to date. (Worst were those who had dreamed of being a pastor’s wife, yikes!) I finally printed up a card that came closest to the plain “Sinner” card.

On the front it listed in 30 words the reason I would be a good, safe and decent person to spend time with. One the back of the card we 30 word of confessions what to expect when I was not presenting my front side. I presented this card two four women at the end of the first date. Two of them never called back. One called back to ask for a copy because they lost it and wanted to show their friend, but was not interested in a second date. Wendy met for the lunch two days later.

The old tourism catch-phrase from the Virginia board of Tourism stated: VA is for <heart/emoji>. Imagine the bumper sticker from God that reads: “Life with God is for “Sinners” with an emoji of our own face.” We don’t like to see ourselves as such. And if we do we spiral in depression and self-hate which is not the purpose of acknowledging our trouble with loving God.

I have trouble love God and Loving my neighbors.

If I love my neighbors it is typically because they are easy to love and we share things in common. If my neighbor is very different I tend to be cautious and hesitant until we find some common ground. Our common ground with all humanity is that we all have moments where we love ourselves more than we love God or our neighbors and some of us have more times we don’t love even ourselves.

Most of this we probably know in our heads.

The church, the governed, our neighbors and even our families are begging to be loved, valued, included, shown compassion, taught what is meaningful, corrected when we are lost, listened to, trusted, and the like.

The admonition from Paul to the church to model loving one another in the ways we find God loving us:

  • Don’t talk about love and not actually love.
  • Don’t talk about your expertise becase your not always perfect.
  • You may know I love, but do you know those who need love around you?
  • You are a person of faith but others are watching when we don’t model faithful speaking and acting.
  • Don’t let our stuff and wanting stuff get in the way of actually loving others.

Ask some to be totally honest and ask all these each day:A

  • Am I patient with you others around me?
  • Do you experience kindness from me?
  • Am I jealous?
  • Do I look out for what’s good for me before others?
  • Am I as wonderful as I think I am?
  • Have you seen me be arrogant?
  • When was the last time you saw me treating someone rudely?
  • Is it my way or the highway?
  • What do I sound like when I’m irritable?
  • Do I cheer when my enemies get what’s coming to them?
  • Do I celebrate when God shows up?
  • Does my faith show in all things?
  • Am I always hopeful?
  • Am I committed to see our relationship through the hardest things and times?

That is a heck of a check-list.. This makes it easier to simply claim the business card and acknowledge, Yes, Lord! Have mercy on me a sinner!

Here the Good News: God loves us while we are still sinning.

God doesn’t want us to keep living in these broken ways, but that does not stop God from loving us. God does not give up!

Application Time

Who in your life needs to hear these words? Who in your areas of influence needs to see God showing love through you to them?

The best marker in journey of learning to love are the moments we love like an adult loves. A child loves because she or he needs. And adult loves not only from the point of need, but also because we know that self-love is never enough. We need God’s help. We need the power of God’s Spirit surging through us, because our Sinner List of when we are not loving shows we have the capacity to try, but not the frequency to make it through.

Loving in the Mirror

If we look in the mirror and see only our own reflection we will fail. The task it to seek God through us.. and we will love for ever.

The Greatest thing is the hardest.

You can do it, in Christ!

Come to the table, and start allowing God’s love to shine through you afresh and anew.

Archive for January, 2019

Luke 4:14-21 Year of the Lord

Posted by myoikos in #2019#yearofthelord on January 26, 2019

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [NRSV]

Do you think that 2019 will be reviewed as a “Year of the Lord”?

In a season of division unlike we have seen in the country and the church since 1840s it does not look as if this is a prime candidate. But what made that year that Jesus stood in the synagogue and declare Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled in their hearing?

The defining factor was Jesus.

The Year of the Lord is time that Isaiah described as a time of reversal of justice and injustice, I time of economic restoration, AND a time of return to God’s righteousness and praise.

If we measure any given year from our markers and standards we will certainly fall short. Yet, if God is making the measure and transformation then true Greatness will prevail. 

Might we learn from history or are we self-fated to repeat what we are unwilling to learn?

ref For nearly 100 years, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided into northern and southern wings.  Sixteen years before the southern states seceded, the southern Annual Conferences withdrew from the denomination and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  What could have caused such a split?

From its earliest days, Methodists debated the issue of slavery.  More precisely, they tried to decide what relationship the church should have to the peculiar institution in a country where slavery was legal, and in some parts of the country, widely supported.  Methodist conferences even before the first General Conference spoke out against slavery, suggesting that clergy who held slaves should promise to set them free.  Several General Conferences struggled with the issue, first pressing traveling elders to emancipate their slaves, then suspending those rules in states where the laws did not permit manumission.  By 1808, General Conference threw up its hands, finding the subject unmanageable, and gave each Annual Conference the right to enact its own rules relative to slaveholding.

The denomination remained divided on the subject of slavery, with some northern Methodists becoming more convinced of slavery’s evil and some southern Methodists more convinced that it was a positive good.  Other southerners felt that any denunciation of slaveholding by Methodists would damage the church in the South.  They were caught, in effect, between church rules and state laws.

The spark that caused the division came when Bishop James O. Andrew, a native and resident of Georgia and a former member of the South Carolina Annual Conference, married a woman who had inherited slaves from her late husband.  Many northern Methodists were appalled that someone with the responsibilities of a general superintendent of the church could also own slaves.  This was the main topic of debate when the General Conference convened in New York City on May 1, 1844.  The six week session would be the longest General Conference in Methodist history.

Bishop Andrew learned of the impending conflict as he traveled to New York, and he resolved to resign from the episcopacy.  However, the southern delegates persuaded Andrew that his resignation would “inflict an incurable wound on the whole South and inevitably lead to division in the church.”  When the conference convened, Bishop Andrew was asked for information on his connection with slavery.

Bishop Andrew explained that first, he had inherited a slave from a woman in Augusta, Georgia, who had asked him to care for her until she turned nineteen, and then emancipate her and send her to Liberia, and if she declined to go, then he should make her “as free as the laws of Georgia would permit.”  The young woman refused to go, so she lived in her own home on his lot and was free to go to the North if she wished, but until then she was legally his slave.  He also inherited a slave through his first wife who would also be free to leave whenever he was able to provide for himself.  Finally, his second wife brought slaves to the marriage, but he disclaimed ownership of them.  “I have neither bought nor sold a slave,” he told the General Conference, “and in the state where I am legally a slaveholder, emancipation is impracticable.”

A group of northern delegates proposed a resolution that the bishop was “hereby affectionately asked to resign.”  Some took the position that the bishops were officers elected by the General Conference and could be asked to resign or deposed by majority vote.  Others took the view that it was a constitutional office and bishops could be removed only by judicial process.  A substitute resolution by one of the bishop’s friends, an Ohioan, asked the bishop to desist from exercising his office as long as he was a slaveholder.  After a 12-day debate, other efforts at compromise, including one that would have allowed Andrew to serve wherever he would be welcomed, failed when it became apparent that the New England conferences would secede if it passed.  One of the prominent speakers in the debate was William Capers, who was the leader of South Carolina’s delegation and a future bishop.

The motion asking Andrew to desist from serving as a bishop ultimately passed, 111-69.  General Conference then worked through the beginnings of a plan of separation.  Annual Conferences throughout the South sent delegates to a convention in Louisville in May 1845, where they formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  For the next 94 years, the two strands of the Methodist Episcopal Church operated separately.  Their separation was one of the turning points on the road to the Civil War, for the Methodist Church was one of several national churches and institutions that broke apart because it could not withstand the growing tensions surrounding the divisive issue of slavery.

http://blogs.wofford.edu/from_the_archives/2013/01/30/how-the-methodist-church-split-in-the-1840s/

The Prayer for our Delegates is that we all seek for God to Show Up, Speak the Witness of God, and cause us to listen to God rather than seek our own solutions, answers and salvation.

Jesus goes on in Luke’s account to tell the folks: I’m guessing you want me do another miracle like the water turned to wine, but know the Lord shows up in the lean times as well:

24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. 31 He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. 32 They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. [LK 4:24-32,NRSV]

In these days of leveraged famine over government shut downs, remember there were times of greater injustice and greater lean and God was working through them as well.

What agitates might be what leads us to find Salvation

The neighbors who wanting the Lord’s Day to be great for them, missed the point that its about seeing God’s revealed. 

Jesus confirms that he is declaring the year the Lord Shows Up. He reads the prophetic words of Isaiah and announces that he, himself, would be the fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus declares that He is the Word: [I] am the hope of the oppressed, the healer of the sick, and the key to set free those forgotten in darkness. Bold words from the hometown hero.

Imagine hearing this sermon from one of our youth who grew up at Rock Spring, went away from some time but returned to the region and they stop one Sabbath to share a Bible text and sermon. Their message was an announcement that they had arrived ready to reveal the Year of the Lord.

For some the message is that “we” are the ones who bring the work of “our” kingdom, but this passage reminds us that it is Jesus who does the revealing, and Revealing God’s domain, and we are called to response to God’s righteousness and reign. (we get it twisted and backwards.)

The year of the Lord speaks of God’s timing to show up.

Jesus declares God is in their presence, Isaiah describes what it looks like when the faithful allow God rule their trust and lives.

  • Does Jesus describe the year of the Lord as the year the Stock Market has it’s the highest performance? 
  • Does the year of the Lord look like the time that everyone in the community agrees with our words and witness? 
  • Does the year of the Lord known when we get our difference worked out?

The Year of the Lord, is every year since Christ has come, the sermon is about our receiving the Lord’s goodness and will as our own or making our own way and calling it God’s on our terms and in our own time.

Isaiah 61:1-11  The Year of the LORD’s Favor 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches, you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness, I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

Time to Make it the Lord’s Year and not Ours.

From Isaiah word, the year of the Lord is not only a reversal of the world’s sense of justice and equity, there is also a time of reward for the end of robbery and covenant breaking, with the reward being double the loss. The prophet speaks of the Lord being clothed with Salvation and righteousness, as a bride and groom are adorn with crowns and jewels. 

The image of a planted seeds becoming a garden, so will the Lord spring up righteousness and praise for all the nations of the world to see and hear.

My Resolutions to loose weight, keep to a budget, organize our stuff and responsiblities

vs. 

Being resolved to Christ, and him crucified

Living as one saved rather than saving for to live when we think we can manage.

Jesus Declares: Let God order our lives and Right will follow AND God is to be praised for it.

Do you think that 2019 will be reviewed as a “Year of the Lord”?

In a season of division unlike we have seen

Jesus confirms that he is declaring the year the Lord Shows Up. He reads the prophetic words of Isaiah and announces that he, himself, would be the fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus declares that He is the Word: [I] am the hope of the oppressed, the healer of the sick, and the key to set free those forgotten in darkness. Bold words from the hometown hero.

Imagine hearing this sermon from one of our youth who grew up at Rock Spring, went away from some time but returned to the region and they stop one Sabbath to share a Bible text and sermon. Their message was an announcement that they had arrived ready to reveal the Year of the Lord.

WOW! The good and the terrible. Good that evil and injustice would come to a reversal (Isaiah 61:1-4) and that the those who loved the Lord with all their heart and mind and strength and soul would lead the world in praise. (Isaiah 61:5-11).

Remember this passage is about Jesus, but we imagine our response to God showing up as one who hears these words from our hometown perspective.

The portion of Isaiah’s prophetic word that is quoted in the Luke passage is the first half of message. Luke wants us to see the transformation of the oppressed, but the other half, speaks of the response and responsibility of the faithful to Jesus work and witness.

Jesus is boldly announces justice for those who have been oppressed. The rest of the story talks about when the world looks like when God’s People live in a world where God is trusted and followed.

For some the message is that “we” are the ones who bring the kingdom, but this passage reminds us that it is Jesus who does the revealing, we are called to response.

The year of the Lord speaks of God’s timing to show up.

Jesus declares God is in their presence, Isaiah describes what it looks like when the faithful allow God rule their trust and lives.

  • Does Jesus describe the year of the Lord as the year the Stock Market has it’s the highest performance?
  • Does the year of the Lord look like the time that everyone in the community agrees with our words and witness?
  • Does the year of the Lord known when

Isaiah 61:1-11  The Year of the LORD’s Favor 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches, you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness, I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

The New Year is now, 1/12th in the books. Is this the year of the Lord?

From Isaiah word, the year of the Lord is not only a reversal of the world’s sense of justice and equity, there is also a time of reward for the end of robbery and covenant breaking, with the reward being double the loss. The prophet speaks of the Lord being clothed with Salvation and righteousness, as a bride and groom are adorn with crowns and jewels.

The image of a planted seeds becoming a garden, so will the Lord spring up righteousness and praise for all the nations of the world to see and hear.

Isaiah word speaks of a time when the People of God becoming that full community where not only are the oppressed made whole, but the whole community becomes “a praise of God’s righteousness.

The news of Jesus’s miracle of turning water into wine had made it home before Jesus arrived.

Will this be a Year of the Lord?

ref For nearly 100 years, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided into northern and southern wings.  Sixteen years before the southern states seceded, the southern Annual Conferences withdrew from the denomination and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  What could have caused such a split?

From its earliest days, Methodists debated the issue of slavery.  More precisely, they tried to decide what relationship the church should have to the peculiar institution in a country where slavery was legal, and in some parts of the country, widely supported.  Methodist conferences even before the first General Conference spoke out against slavery, suggesting that clergy who held slaves should promise to set them free.  Several General Conferences struggled with the issue, first pressing traveling elders to emancipate their slaves, then suspending those rules in states where the laws did not permit manumission.  By 1808, General Conference threw up its hands, finding the subject unmanageable, and gave each Annual Conference the right to enact its own rules relative to slaveholding.

The denomination remained divided on the subject of slavery, with some northern Methodists becoming more convinced of slavery’s evil and some southern Methodists more convinced that it was a positive good.  Other southerners felt that any denunciation of slaveholding by Methodists would damage the church in the South.  They were caught, in effect, between church rules and state laws.

The spark that caused the division came when Bishop James O. Andrew, a native and resident of Georgia and a former member of the South Carolina Annual Conference, married a woman who had inherited slaves from her late husband.  Many northern Methodists were appalled that someone with the responsibilities of a general superintendent of the church could also own slaves.  This was the main topic of debate when the General Conference convened in New York City on May 1, 1844.  The six week session would be the longest General Conference in Methodist history.

Bishop Andrew learned of the impending conflict as he traveled to New York, and he resolved to resign from the episcopacy.  However, the southern delegates persuaded Andrew that his resignation would “inflict an incurable wound on the whole South and inevitably lead to division in the church.”  When the conference convened, Bishop Andrew was asked for information on his connection with slavery.

Bishop Andrew explained that first, he had inherited a slave from a woman in Augusta, Georgia, who had asked him to care for her until she turned nineteen, and then emancipate her and send her to Liberia, and if she declined to go, then he should make her “as free as the laws of Georgia would permit.”  The young woman refused to go, so she lived in her own home on his lot and was free to go to the North if she wished, but until then she was legally his slave.  He also inherited a slave through his first wife who would also be free to leave whenever he was able to provide for himself.  Finally, his second wife brought slaves to the marriage, but he disclaimed ownership of them.  “I have neither bought nor sold a slave,” he told the General Conference, “and in the state where I am legally a slaveholder, emancipation is impracticable.”

A group of northern delegates proposed a resolution that the bishop was “hereby affectionately asked to resign.”  Some took the position that the bishops were officers elected by the General Conference and could be asked to resign or deposed by majority vote.  Others took the view that it was a constitutional office and bishops could be removed only by judicial process.  A substitute resolution by one of the bishop’s friends, an Ohioan, asked the bishop to desist from exercising his office as long as he was a slaveholder.  After a 12-day debate, other efforts at compromise, including one that would have allowed Andrew to serve wherever he would be welcomed, failed when it became apparent that the New England conferences would secede if it passed.  One of the prominent speakers in the debate was William Capers, who was the leader of South Carolina’s delegation and a future bishop.

The motion asking Andrew to desist from serving as a bishop ultimately passed, 111-69.  General Conference then worked through the beginnings of a plan of separation.  Annual Conferences throughout the South sent delegates to a convention in Louisville in May 1845, where they formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  For the next 94 years, the two strands of the Methodist Episcopal Church operated separately.  Their separation was one of the turning points on the road to the Civil War, for the Methodist Church was one of several national churches and institutions that broke apart because it could not withstand the growing tensions surrounding the divisive issue of slavery.

http://blogs.wofford.edu/from_the_archives/2013/01/30/how-the-methodist-church-split-in-the-1840s/

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Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Baptism of Our Lord Sunday

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on January 21, 2019

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [NRSV]

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts..

It is my prayer that we see Jesus showing up in St Louis next month to make clear the direction of our Methodist future.

With the same uncertainly AND hope the people were anticipating the fulfillment of God’s promise to show up and lead the people.

Our text is about John the Baptist’s ministry of repentance for preparation. I offer that the United Methodist Church has been kicking-the-can on human sexuality for over forty years without repenting for not being better prepared for the struggle, division and need for spiritual leadership in this year. In these generations have we been looking for the gifts of discernment? Have we been open to God’s way of communicating grace and boundaries? How have we prepared to express the eternal love of God in an ever changing world?

The people in Israel were waiting for a Messiah, a king, who would right the wrongs of their current reality and restore Israel. Many were gathering to be baptized by John in expectation that something would soon happen — the Messiah was coming.

Is in John’s message, we are acknowledging that we have been quick to point fingers of blame and drawn out lines in the sand, WITHOUT, learning how to show the power of loving all sinners.

Epiphany is a season of claiming our “Greater Gifts”, and today we will be exploring how baptism, as a “first gift” from God, leads us in life toward paths of discovering and rediscovering God-given gifts, activating those gifts through the Holy Spirit, understanding how our gifts are interrelated to the gifts of other disciples in the body of Christ, and how important it is to stay true to the heart of our God-given gifts — the love of God in Christ.

So what about this gift of baptism?

Some of you may have never been baptized. Later in the service, we want to give you an opportunity to sign up to be baptized next week if you feel God calling. Some of you were baptized more recently; some recently confirmed the baptism of your childhood; and for some, perhaps it has been many years since your baptism.

What do you remember leading up to that moment? Or, what did your parents or guardians tell you about that moment? Who was present? What did it mean to them?

I told him I wanted to follow Jesus my whole life and I thought it should start with being baptized. In those moments, the sanctuary became a thin space. The heavens did not open, but I felt God’s presence all around. As Wesley said, “my heart was strangely warmed.” On January 9, 1983, I received the gift of baptism and was forever changed. As a matter of fact, I remember telling my good friend Kevin about the experience right away. He was also a Christian, and he told about his experience of baptism, showing me a silver cross around his neck. In our young friendship, our faith was not something we talked about. In that moment, we shared God’s gift to us, and our joy was complete.

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Luke 2:1-11 Wedding Wine

Posted by myoikos in #2019 on January 19, 2019

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, andthe mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invitedto the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him,”They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, whatconcern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mothersaid to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standingthere were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holdingtwenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars withwater.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Nowdraw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where itcame from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the stewardcalled the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good winefirst, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But youhave kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of hissigns, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believedin him. [NRSV]

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/the-cana-wedding-wine-jars-apparently-still-exist-and-archaeologists-think-they-ve-found-them.html

The Serving the Best Stuff

In John’s Gospel, it is no random mistake that we see Jesus beginshis ministry of miracles, celebration and salvation on the third day.

On the third day… in creation, God creates that seas and the dry land and places trees and vegetation of every kind with it’s seed, and declares it to be good.

On the third day, Mary and the other women arrive at the empty tomb and experience the reality of the resurrection and become the first witnesses and evangelist of the resurrection.

On the third day of Jesus’s public ministry follows the calling and gathering of his disciples and they are invited to a wedding.

Why is Running Out of Wine Important?

This is remembered as the wedding where they ran out of wine. Some had said they were not planning for all of Jesus’s disciples and only added them at the last minute and the twelve extra families overwhelmed the plus-two budget when Jesus shows up as Mary’s plus-one with a plus-two dozen. This might explain why Mary turns to Jesus to fix the problem.

INTRO Mary introduces Jesus as a problem solver to community.

What is the problem? It is more than a lack of wine, it is a matter of hospitality. Mary empathizeswith the bride and groom and family and knows that a shortage of wine would endthe celebration.

Wine is fruit of fermented grapes, from a vineyard, with vinesand branches, which grew grapes that contained seeds that had producing fruitsince the third day of creation she announces to the world that Jesus has cometo fix the problem that confronts us with the gap between good seed and good soiland the absence of fruit for the celebration.

Are you tracking the images of vineyards, vines and branches,good seeds planted and good seeds created, and the problem is an emptiness, avoid, a chasm that only Jesus has the solution.

The instructions in following Jesus are to do whatever he says.

His first words are something to the affect: I’m not at thetemple, were are not at the synagogue, its not been revealed to me when toreveal my true self. “I’ve just gotten by core staff on board and we have notworked all the details out.”

Mary insists that Jesus is the solution, the answer, the salvation to the problem.

Mary had been pondering in her heart and mind for decadesand she put the pieces together and encourages Jesus to step forward and letthe glory and power show.

NOTE: I find it very interesting that Jesus reveals the solution without it being about himself. Jesus is pointing and connecting us with God.

He uses clay water pitchers just as God use the clay vessels like us.

He uses servants to use what is known for purification,baptism and cleansing and has them fill the empty pots with cold water, a cupof cold water for those who are lost across a great chasm.

He sends them to the chief stewards, the chief priest, to Pilate,to Herod, to those who know fully about emptiness and shows them vessels fullof the solution.

The solution was the wine which would be poured out for the world,for the forgiveness of sins, that becomes our communion with God, throughChrist, who makes whole the void and emptiness of sin and brokenness.

The Chief Steward does not go to Jesus, he does not go to the servants, he goes to the bride and bridegroom.

This is where the praise for the greatest prize, the undeserved,the unrecognized has been saved for this moment. This indeed was Jesus’s momentto reveal God’s glory, and the rest of the story… all the way from creation’s goodness,the emptiness of sin and, the wholeness of salvation.

This is not just a wedding, it is the platform for the Glory of God to be known.

It is for this reason that the church and marriage havebecome a target…

The people are created good, every person is a precious giftof God, and we are all created for one another as God’s servants, but this storyis about the hospitality of the bridegroom.

Hospitality is a relationship of service to those in need.

Jesus shows up at the perfect time to serve those who are inneed.

  • when the joy, fellowship and community are threaten to end,
  • The need is when the fruitfulness is empty,
  • the wine was the solution (double meaning intended)

So What?

  • So drink Jesus up!
  • Be hospitable to others
  • Find hope that Christ is transforming us from water into fruitfulness

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Matthew 2:1-12 “Find” Epiphany Sunday

Posted by myoikos in #2019#epiphany#findingJesus#honorandrespectWorship on January 5, 2019

                                Lectionary Readings *Vanderbilt Epiphany Sunday 01-06-2019

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.  May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. ..May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gift. May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,  and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,  a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.  In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

This year we arrive at Epiphany as the exclamation mark of Jesus’s birth. Beyond the historical events of Jesus’s birth is OUR response to the reality of God-with-us now. In the moments and experiences where we ‘find’ Jesus ourselves:

What are our responses?

Will we find him in the journey that awaits?

Will we start something new or wait a better sign?

In this week we stop to recognize three important foundational legs to being the year:

  1. What is our star? our signs? How is God trying to be ‘found’ in the world?
  2. Will we take action to meet him or hope he shows up on our terms?
  3. How will we honor him when we recognize him, how will we say thank you?

What is our sign: Bill Engvald, comedian and friend of Jeff Foxworthy, uses the tag line about find if someone says something foolish without hearing the words that are coming out of their mouths: Example, [ In the lost luggage section of an airport… Agent said, “Can I help you?” Bill said, “Yes ma’am, the airline lost my luggage.” She looked Bill right in the eye and said, “Has your plane landed yet?” He replied, ”No, princess, I’m having an out-of-body experience! I’m just checking on it before it arrives! : Here’s your sign]

It would be nice if we had signs that we wore to let people know what was going on inside our hearts and minds. For a time people would wear black for an extended period of time to remind the world their were grieving the loss of a loved one, but now we put on a happy face and tell the world I’m Just fine.

If someone is feeling forgotten, alone or unappreciated they could wear a hat with a large exclamation point on top. We would could then be more intentional about supporting, befriending and recognizing them and their needs.

In most every Bible study I have shared the wisdom of a renown Christian educator, Dick Murry, who share the “bunny-ears-running-off-into-the-woods hand sign” is fair game to use when someone is dominating the discussion in a class.  I have received that signal and shared it as well.

If someone is anxious or nervous, it would be good to see a gauge that revealed the gasket was about to blow, so we could help support a change of state.

What are the signs that inform and inspire us to find God?

  • At time this is the role of scripture, but we have to be reading and digesting it to do so.
  • At times there are songs and music that draw us to heart or lead us to praise.
  • At times there are opportunities of service and sharing that allow Christ to show up around us.
  • At other times it is opposite:

Sometimes it is in the darkest of our fears, when can find no stars present, what do we do?

we must allow room for grace to show us..

Epiphany : is a preventative call:

  • to live looking for signs,
  • anticipate God’s revealing,
  • watch with hope

The special word for this week is “Find.” In both Isaiah 60:1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12, there is movement toward the new king who was born in Bethlehem. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the land of Israel will witness how “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”(v.3). The text makes reference to young camels of Midian and Ephah and Sheba will come with gold and frankincense to proclaim the praise of the Lord (v. 6,7). In the gospel of Matthew, the visit of the magi is also about rendering praise not to a land, but to a newborn king.

In these texts, there is an invitation to give honor, glory, and praise to God, who has acted in favor of the covenant people and who has come to us through the Messiah. In the gospel, the wise men from the East have had a brief encounter with King Herod. We know that Herod had an ulterior motive when having what seemed like an honest and sincere conversation with these visitors. He was intending to begin a search for the newborn king to get rid of him (vv.13).

Once they went to Bethlehem and were welcomed by Joseph and Mary, the first thing they did was kneel and honor the newborn child.

QUESTION:

Does my/your spiritual journey that take us to meet Jesus or are we distracted along the way?

Where are the places we must stop in our spiritual journey and how do we get back on track?

KEY:

Does our daily living point us toward where God wants us to go?

What is our response to finding Jesus? The wisemen offer praise, honor, and gifts. How are we inspired to offer our time, talents, gifts, service, participation and witness?

What is the taking the place of the star in guiding us toward finding Christ in our daily lives?

Where is the prevenient grace working ahead of us to show us the way?

Are we seeing the signs God gives us? Are we interpreting God’s signs to follow? Are we taking the action to find him? Are we taking gifts of praise for when we arrive or wait until we stumble upon him and be empty handed?

As we begin 2019

  1. Where do we expect to ‘find’ and experience God this year?
  2. What direction and actions do we need to begin this journey?
  3. What are we taking with us in anticipation of praising and honoring God when we find him?

Archive for December, 2018

Phil 2:1-13 Share Faith in the Absence

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on December 29, 2018

man and woman divorce drawing torn apart

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  [NRSV]

Sharing a Hymn of Faith

Paul draws on the words of a song of praise in the newly started Church in his letter. Just as we bring together the emotions, memories, and relationships through which we have shared when we sing, (copyright notation assumed)

  • Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like, me I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
  • I come to the garden alone, while the due is still on the roses and voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses, and he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
  • Shackled by a heaven burden, ‘neath a load of guilt and shame. Then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same. He touched me, oh he touched me, and oh the joy that floods my soul, something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.
  • Lord I life your name on high, lord, I love to sing your praises, you came from heaven to earth to show the way, from the cross to the grave, my debts to pay, from the grave to the sky, Lord I lift your name on high.
  • and {This is the day, tune} let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross

We have no idea of the tune of the hymn/song Paul includes, but he brings a tradition of worship to help strengthen the disciple’s faith.

The Power of Singing our Faith

https://takelessons.com/blog/health-benefits-of-singing

Physical Benefits

  • Singing strengthens the immune system: According to research conducted at the University of Frankfurt, singing boosts the immune system. The study included testing professional choir members’ blood before and after an hour-long rehearsal singing Mozart’s “Requiem”. The researchers noticed that in most cases, a number of proteins in the immune system that functions as antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin A, were significantly higher immediately after the rehearsal. The same increases were not observed after the choir members passively listened to music.
  • Singing is a workout: For the elderly, disabled, and injured, singing can be an excellent form of exercise. Even if you’re healthy, your lungs will get a workout as you employ proper singing techniques and vocal projections. Other related health benefits of singing include a stronger diaphragm and stimulated overall circulation. Since you pull in a greater amount of oxygen while singing than when doing many other types of exercise, some even believe that singing can increase your aerobic capacity and stamina.
  • Singing improves your posture: Standing up straight is part of correct technique as you’re singing, so with time, good posture will become a habit! As your chest cavity expands and your shoulders and back align, you’re improving your posture overall.
  • Singing helps with sleep: According to a health article in Daily Mail Online, experts believe singing can help strengthen throat and palate muscles, which helps stop snoring and sleep apnea. If you’re familiar with these ailments, you know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep!

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Singing is a natural anti-depressant: Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted and happy. In addition, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which response to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Not only that, but singing can simply take your mind off the day’s troubles to boost your mood.
  • Singing lowers stress levels: Making music in any form is relaxing. Singing releases stored muscle tension and decrease the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your bloodstream.
  • Singing improves mental alertness: Improved blood circulation and an oxygenated bloodstream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. This improves mental alertness, concentration, and memory. The Alzheimer’s Society has even established a “Singing for the Brain” service to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memories.

Social Benefits

  • Singing can widen your circle of friends: Whether you’re in a choir or simply enjoy singing karaoke with your friends, one of the unexpected health benefits of singing is that it can improve your social life. The bonds you form singing with others can be profound since there’s a level of intimacy naturally involved.
  • Singing boosts your confidence: Stage fright is a common feeling for new singers. However, performing well and receiving praise from your friends and family may be the key to eventually overcoming your fears and boosting your self-confidence. With time, you may even find it easier to present any type of material in front of a group with poise and good presentation skills.
  • Singing broadens communication skills: According to an article in The Guardian, singing to babies helps prepare their brains for language. Music is just as important as teaching reading and writing at a young age to prevent language problems later in life. If you enjoy writing your own lyrics, honing this talent can improve your ability to communicate in different ways!
  • Singing increases your ability to appreciate accomplished singers: Sometimes, you don’t realize how difficult something is until you try it yourself. As you grow from an amateur to an intermediate student and beyond, you’ll be looking to the masters for inspiration. You might even find a new style of music to appreciate that you wouldn’t normally listen to!

Spiritual Benefits  

https://www.businessballs.com/health-and-wellbeing/singing-for-personal-and-group-development-1725/

  • Singing is actually a form of meditation, praise, and faith-sharing.
  • When we sing, we shift focus and thinking away from our selves/usual life happenings and concerns, towards something ‘other-worldly’.
  • Singing is a way of bypassing your ego to acknowledge your soul.
  • Singing helps us to ‘let go’, just as in other forms of meditation.
  • Sally Garozzo says, “When you surrender to your voice within, you transcend your physical self.”
  • A peculiar and powerful effect happens when you stop singing. There is a moment when you ‘come back into your body’? Singing is a very spiritual activity. It touches and stimulates some very basic instincts – primeval feelings – the effects of singing are at a deeply unconscious level, which in normal day-to-day work-type activities are impossible to reach.
  • Singing is also wonderful for relationships and connecting people spiritually and naturally:
  • Singing brings people together. People ‘feel the love‘ that singing generates.
  • Singing unites factions, religions, and races.
  • Singing creates positive energy and a happy mood and that’s infectious and transparently good for everyone.
  • The delights of singing go beyond merely enjoying the beauty of your own vocal talent. All of these health benefits of singing may make you want to join a choir or start taking voice lessons right away! It doesn’t matter whether you become a world-class singer or not; have fun with it, and do you what you enjoy!

Hymns/ Praise Songs, / Psalms and other /Translation of secular songs toward God

  • Use the message of our salvation is the core message,

But in the context of a song, use worship and songs of the faith to keep you on task and in tune with God and the work we share.

The Specific instruction in this text in what to do in the times of absence: I know what we do when we gather for worship on Sundays, but what about when we alone. at work school or in the face of temptation?

The instruction and encouragement are for us to sing the faith story.  Faith sharing through singing songs of faith in Christ.

Divide in groups of four and five, pick a first, second and third choice of your favorite song/hymn of faith… write them down and pick a spokesperson to represent your group.

Each spokesperson to come of front and lead us in a verse or chorus until we have sun all 10-15 or more songs.

WHAT DO WE DO IN THE ABSENCE of the fellowship?

  • Sing the songs of faith we sing when we are in fellowship/worship
  • As encouragement to ourselves
  • As a witness to others
  • as a praise to God

DO IT UNTIL

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Home Work: So get out there and start singing your faith, sing out loud, sing out strong, don’t worry if its not good enough for anyone else to hear, sing for God. [Carpenters, Perry Como]Advertisements

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Healing Not Division Mark 3:20-35

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on December 29, 2018

HouseDivided

..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! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]

It is worth noting that if you ‘Google’ the phrase, “a house divided” first reports quotations of President Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech and only as a second or third listing does the search report the words of Jesus found in Mark 3:20-35. (Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17)

But keep in mind is President Lincoln, drawing on the passage from Jesus that his audience would have instantly recognized as such. Thus crossing the lines of faith and government calling on a divided people to look ahead, beyond the chasm of disagreement to the hope he expresses later in the same speech:

“The Presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the incoming President, in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever might be.” (*)

He called for the people to have hope in finding unity whatever would be decided, North or South, slavery or no slavery, Left or Right.  Indeed this passage from Mark’s Gospel likewise calls us to focus much less on what divides us and cling to that which binds us.

This is an Interesting discussion and teaching on the division of the family.

Many things divide families: Money, Politics, Selfishness, Debt, Apathy, and Addictions

Many things threaten families: The things, ideas, beliefs and enemies that do not have the best interest of the who ‘whole’ family will always offer solutions that attempt to satisfy themselves over the family.

  • Half of all families end in divorce is confirmation that neither the church nor the society model a strong family model.
  • Drugs and Alcohol addictions and the lifestyles that follow never build up the family, except for those who band together to take advantage of one another.
  • The quest to have the things, the house, the toys, the style, the technologies and have us place our dreams and hopes in objects that rust, wear, fade, decay and must be continually replaced, repaired and remade.
  • The family is a threatened and undermined with the more individualistic our society and world becomes.

One lie we about technology is that it brings families together. While it is true that distance for the moments we choose to connect, there are more moments that family members are in close proximity to one another, yet each watch different screens, devices, and distractions. The lure is that these ‘things’ can help connect us, but they also isolate us.

Many things entice families:

Also, there are other relationships, temptations, desires and goals that entice both individuals and families to seek love, happiness, joy, and peace in things that are temporary, unattainable and evil, even in the name and intent of being good for the family.

Mark reminds us Jesus’ words that evil, satan, and all persons consumed by evil, will work divide the people of God.

  • This passage is about Jesus’ own family worried that Jesus was not getting enough to eat, (Mary must have been stereotypical mother… you need to eat Jesus)
  • Second the religious leaders threatened by the crowds and the teaching and healing Jesus was negatively affecting their crowds, teachings, and support, so they called him names and try to demonize Jesus, saying he was bad, he could do nothing good, he will be filled with evil, even, in fact, THEY were the ones doing this to Jesus.

What do you do when your own family, your community and your faith leaders are divided against one another and you as well? The tendency is more isolation and withdrawal. Wrong answer.

Here we finally get to Jesus’s teaching about how to overcome the division:

FORGIVENESS:

God is graciously ready to forgive the strongest of people who have done the most unthinkable things with two things occur: 1) They remember the powerful and wonderful gives of God’s grace is real and actually available for us all. 2) When the most self-righteous, the most self-reliant, the most selfishly focused person recognized they have not been doing what is faithful to God, to God’s people nor to themselves. We take God up on the grace, confess our brokenness and turn back toward a life in God.

God doesn’t force this on us, but stands ready and hoping we choose to reconcile to God, to return to the heart of God, to stop the divisive talk, the hurtful behavior, the attacking thoughts and untwist our hearts and minds and words toward God’s word and God’s love.

THE EXCEPTION: What is the unforgivable sin?

The sin we will not acknowledge as sin. The evil we re-name, re-frame, dress up to look and sound good and righteous but are not found in God. Thus we are saying God can’t make me whole, God can’t save me. God can’t be in my life. God doesn’t care. God is made up an idea to satisfy weak and illogical fearful masses. God is not with us.

When we think, believe, act and say these things God will not force us to believe, God will not make us believe or trust or repent. God is willing to allow us to move so far that we no longer recognize that God is still with us.

Here is the test? As long as I am offering my thoughts, actions, future, self to God all sin is forgivable, but if we don’t want it, God’s not going to force.

The gift is MEANING. It means something when e choose to let God love and claim us, even when we have rebelled and divided and demeaned and harmed ourselves and others by leading each other away from God.

The example follows that Jesus’s flesh and blood family come to take him home, to save him from the ridicule and threat and he REDEFINES family. The family is about being blood-kin in the saving blood of the lamb that was slain. The family is those who acknowledge we have sinned, been completely self-focused, self-identified, self-determined, self-made, self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-funded, self-driven, self-saving, STRONG but with the wrong strength.

  • The strong family is the family trusting God with our problems.
  • The strong family is the family that is revealing God’s story and hope to a divided world.
  • The strong family is the family uniting in following God’s call, word, and love.
  • The way out of the division in our family is to NOT write one another off but to reach out to one another offering Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we don’t know what divided or divides us, but we clearly experience the consequence. It is actually unimportant to blame and get back to the original cause. Our hope is in what we are becoming, together, in Christ.

  • Where there is division: We have the opportune time to confess our sins and seek God’s leading.
  • Where we separate” We have but to turn to Christ and invite our neighbor to join us in Christ.
  • When you hear someone say: She or He is nothing but evil, then join them on a journey to share the Heart and Word of God.
    • This is our calling.
    • This is our gift of grace
    • This is our family

Be filled with God’s word AND heart, be forgiven in Christ, Be strong in the word and Holy Spirit.

#wayforward #GC2019UMC #UnitedinChrist #allsinnersmatter

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Luke 2:41-52 Lost in Three Days

Posted by myoikos in #2018 on December 29, 2018

Christmas20181230_Search_

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. [NRSV]

Jesus’s Childhood: Normal yet Extraordinary

This text is the only text where Jesus’ life between infancy and adulthood is recorded. Although a very brief description of these years, it gives us enough to think about him as a normal boy, trained well in the traditions of Judaism.

This is one of the most human and divine stories in the life of Jesus. On one hand, what parent has not a moment of experiencing a lost child story. Susanna lost in Belk department store, happily watching Barney in the children’s section. Or Luke at Turner field without his seat tickets and all the entrances began to look alike after a trip the men’s room. Or Frances…

On the occasion of Passover, Jesus’ parents, along with many other faithful Jews, took the journey to the city of Jerusalem. At some point on the return trip back to their home, they noticed Jesus was missing. They thought twelve-year-old Jesus was among the travelers. After a three-day search, to their surprise, they found Jesus in the temple in the middle of a conversation with religious teachers.

Typical of a concerned parent, Mary questions Jesus about his disappearance. She must have been very worried and upset because he had stayed in Jerusalem. Mary says, we’ve been “searching for you in great anxiety” (v.48). To which, Jesus replies, “Why were you searching for me?” Any parent would have responded with a, “What do you mean, ‘Why?’ We are your parents.” Every child know the drill. But this is the fascinating thing about this text: it enhances Jesus’ humanity, and it gives us a small, but significant entry into his family, “the holy family.”

The word for this week is “Search.” Mary and Joseph search for their lost child, Jesus. Jesus is on a search for answers; he is developing into adulthood, and—above all— discovering his mission as Son of God. I know this presents serious questions for some people regarding Jesus’ nature as both human and divine. For some, the question is, “Didn’t he understand his own divinity?” For others, the question is, “If he understands his divinity, how authentic was his experience as a human being?” The text reads, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor” ( v.52).

The epistle to Hebrews affirms Jesus’ experience as common to all other human beings, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (5:7-9). Thus, like any other human being, Jesus learned to obey his Heavenly Father. And so, we find him learning the ropes of his faith, and perhaps deepening his understanding of who is and what he is called to do as the Messiah.

The presence of the parents and the dynamic of family interactions make this text very accessible. Concerns about family life, child rearing, spiritual formation, faith discoveries, family rules, and communication between parents and youth are places where the theme of “search” can surface. Even Jesus was under the tutelage of a family; he had questions and was thirsting for truth and meaning. Jesus shows depth and maturity as a young twelve-year-old boy.

We are not privy to the content of his interaction in the temple, but he is both “listening to them and asking them questions.” Additionally, he had a grasp of the faith and tradition as “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (v. 47).

This passage brings back memories of my visit to Israel. I had a chance to approach the Western Wall (or wailing wall). We carried in our pockets a list of petitions from our group to be inserted between the stones that make up the wall. We began our journey toward the wall in the middle of a huge crowd made up of hundreds of men praying. Many of them stood in circles sharing questions and answers, under the tutelage of either a rabbi or an elder Jew.

In the text, we see a very Jewish moment, with Jesus and his parents caught in between Jesus’ search for answers and Mary and Joseph’s search for their son. For us Christian listeners in the twenty-first century on this first Sunday after Christmas Day, we have an invitation to continue our search for depth and greater maturity in our faith journey.

Like Jesus, we want to have the freedom to raise questions and to share our view on things spiritual. It would be wonderful if every faith community could be that place where people would feel they could go on their own to find answers. We will always be surrounded by self-appointed leaders who like fathers and mothers will question our whereabouts, our independent thinking, or our going in the opposite direction.

There is a juggling act in this text: The important of family life and the and the uncontainable and inevitable coming of age of all human beings, and the reminder that like Jesus, we also must be about our heavenly parent’s business.

As a mother and a father, God wants us to give an account of our whereabouts, but at the same time wants us to explore, discern, ask questions, and search for answers.

In practical terms, Scripture, prayer, worship, small-group Bible studies, hymns, praise songs, serves of others, meditation, and all kinds of spiritual discipline are important tools to help us continue our search.

From different angles, this text in the Christmas season can lay a foundation for what is yet to come in the next several weeks as we see Jesus becoming an adult and fully engaged in his messianic mission.

Weekly Sermon are a chore and a Joy

I offer to you there is a weekly joy and chore about preparing sermons. Sermon preparation is a spiritual discipline in itself. The exercise of immersing in the text week in and week out can be a tedious task. It can also become monotonous and a matter of doing the job as opposed to an adventure in learning new things about ourselves, about God, and about the applications of our faith in the real world.

I have confidence that not every sermon is a homerun and not everyone listens to my words. But I truly hope that the text of Jesus being an ordinary person, with ordinary parents, finds himself not with his birth-family but with his spiritual family.

This text can motivate us to give ourselves permission to explore biblical, theological, and church matters.

Consider a presentation on the reality of family life, coming of age, and independent thinking in our children. By the same token, also consider a homiletical lesson on subjects such as: sensitivity on the part of spiritual elders toward young inquiring minds and the importance of providing spaces for in-depth discussions on faith matters.

Urgency of being Lost

The questions for us has the urgency of knowing that what we teach the next generation can be lost in a matter of days up assuming someone else has them covered or that someone else is responsible or that someone else with watching after the children while we do our own thing.

What are you and I doing to be assured that no one is left out, left behind in their spiritual journey?

Where better for us to be but in the fellowship of witnesses, teachers and co-learners at the church/temple to be about our heavenly father’s call upon our lives.

Look at the next three days. Give three step, three steps mister…

  • What can you do to be more informed about your faith in the next three days
  • What can you do to be clear that those in your family/ circle of influence are growing in faith
  • What strength, joy, hope and love will come if we do nothing and just go about our regular routines.

As the new year approaches: Look at your Spiritual Growth in three day periods:

  1. What can I do today
  2. What will I do tomorrow
  3. Who will God place in my path the day after and will I be ready to listen, teach, serve or share my faith?

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Isaiah 9:2-7  Luke 2:1-20 Christmas Eve—Arrive

Posted by myoikos in #2018#advent#nowwhat#receivethegift on December 24, 2018

Arrives_ChristmsEVE_2018_RSUMC

For Christians, Christmas Eve is a moment of open arms— as a midwife who extends her arms to receive the newly born child. As the church, we also extend our arms to receive Jesus once again, with all that he has to offer: an incomparable love, a huge smile, the smile of God over humanity and directed individually at every human being.

My left-handed catcher’s mitt is a bit of an oddity to most. Being left-handed in baseball, except in rare cases, means exclusion from the position of catcher. This is due in large part to the game’s counterclockwise flow. There have only been 30 left-handed throwing players who caught in at least 1 defensive inning. If you exclude the seven men who only caught in a single game, then you’re talking about just 23 players. If you count only those guys who caught 100 or more games in a career, you’re down to exactly five left-handed throwing catchers. However, if you’re only counting career catchers (minimum of 800 games caught), then you have exactly one and that is Jack Clements. To have a youth sized left handed catchers mitt is an invitation for someone to take on something miraculous.

Christmas Eve is a time of wonder, anticipation and glowing hopeful faces. Unfortunately, even on the night of Christmas Eve, there are thousands of people who cannot or will not smile back. In the first place, they don’t seem to see Jesus in all the festivities.

  • Maybe what they truly capture is Jesus crying, as any other baby does throughout the world.
  • In pain and in sorrow, throughout the world, there are precious little babies, precious elderly men, and woman, young people who are lacking food, shelter, jobs, loved ones; therefore, they are not smiling on Christmas Eve.
  • Some carry the full emptiness of loss and grief that allow for now room in the inn.
  • Still, in many of those places, because of deep faith, they also extend their arms to the arriving Jesus.

Both Scriptures for this day have the element of receiving. A baby has been born, and it has made an extraordinary difference. A variety of activities take place at church and home: Christmas plays, concerts, family dinners—all celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

43 The text from Isaiah 9:2-7 is a short poem full of hope, in spite of whatever days of suffering may have preceded. Christians see this promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth (Lk. 2:1-20). The Israelites themselves went through harsh divisions between the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. There are many other historical events behind this text that the preacher will most likely not have to time to address. Perhaps the most important aspect that needs to be underlined on Christmas Eve is the inauguration of a new day that is the centerpiece of the occasion. The Israelites heard from Isaiah of a new day after experiences of war, division, and captivity. Christians will hear a message of the birth of a baby that makes a difference in the world. Paradoxically, we still hear about wars; a great segment of humanity experiences hunger, strife, squalor, and poverty. But still, the message of Christ’s birth has resulted in schools, hospitals, orphanages, agricultural work, public demonstrations against injustice, corruption, and discrimination. Baby Jesus has been in the hearts of the innocent, the elderly, the terminally ill, and those who have just his followers.

There is much to celebrate on Christmas Eve. I can still savor the special foods shared by family and friends. I can picture a night of worship that included the choir and the drama team. Afterward, people went home to meet with more family members. In certain places, gifts will be opened on Christmas Day; but in others, right at midnight or before, while the children are still awake.

What an extraordinary event. And what a formidable opportunity for evangelization, the sharing of the good news. In both Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20, we are given the foundation for a message of hope through the coming of a very special baby. With the arrival of Jesus, there is the promise of freedom for those in bondage, justice on behalf of those who have been wronged, light in a world of darkness, deliverance from the rod of the oppressor. No one could stop God’s sovereign will, “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child” (v. 6).

God is in charge of history; no one can stop God from bringing redemption to the world. Galatians 4:4-5 has the same tone of an unstoppable moment, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.”

That we are adopted and made part of God’s covenant people, that we have become sisters and brothers of Jesus, that we have the blessing to open our arms to the One who has arrived, is a fascinating message. Amid the powers that be to proclaim that the One who has come is at the same time, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting

44 Father, Prince of Peace, with an ever-increasing authority, with the promise of peace, and an agenda of justice and righteousness is at the same time good news and bad news —good news for those who long for deliverance; bad news for those who have placed the chains of oppression and violence on others.

In the gospel text, the newborn child disrupted— in a good way —the lives of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and even the angels. The whole universe is engaged in offering praises to the One who is God’s best gift to the world. The angels sing, “glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (v.14).

For the Sports fans: What has been a favorite play to watch? A quarterback has the game-winning ball and passes or throws it into someone else’s hands, they receive it and run with it. That is where Christmas Eve begins.

For those who run to mailbox: and find the long-awaited check, acceptance or notice of the final zero balance, that news confirms the efforts of the past and pave the way for a new beginning.

For those who have heard Good News this year: The beginning of

For those have received God’s Word in their hearts:

For those who feel that they have seen nothing God, or lost the hope, or were somehow left on the island of misfit toys: Christmas Eve is where the Good News Begins for us all!

God the Lord of all Creation has come to be born into our history, into our hearts, into our futures. Tonight we stand ready to receive Christ:

Now is the time to receive the package, receive the gift, Receive new life, renewed hope, new healing, new possibilities, renewed promises, renews covenants.

In Receiving Christ we take on the responsibility of caring for Christ throughout our lives and the places we go.

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Advent 4—Welcome Micah 5:2-5a Keywords: joy, hospitality, encouragement

Posted by myoikos in #2018Advent AAdvent BAdvent Cencouragementhospitality on December 23, 2018

FB_4Advent2018_Welcome

But you, O [Rock Spring] of [Walker County], who are one of the little [communities] of [Georgia], from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in [My People], whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.  Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5 and he shall be the one of peace[Micah 5:2-5a modified for RSUMC]

What if this were the word given to us, instead of the little town of Bethlehem? Prophetic words I have heard in 34 years of ministry:

There are about to build a second regional airport in Northwest Georgia and it will transform the state and every little town around it. (First DS shared the news: Still no airport, for good or bad).

Stand, Refine, Do, Now, Welcome: on the edge and eve of Arrived!

Our Advent Adventure has started by with the first steps of

  1. taking a stand, responding to the call to get up and get moving.
  2. We have refined our faith and tools and claimed God’s call upon us to continue the momentum and DO what is good and right,
  3. We have been encouraged with hope and called to share hope and
  4. Today we remember to welcome those we meet to help them find Christ through together.

One of the annual tradition that I grew up with at Christmas was my mother’s annual open house party. I believe that it is for this reason that I have struggled to see the joy in the parties because I know all the work and preparation that goes on before, during and after a big event.

Mom started with the decoration over Thanksgiving and by mid-December, the menus and Christmas card/Invitations would be sent out. The ten to fourteen days before Christmas would include a long checklist of grocery shopping, baking and cleaning around the house. The Sunday afternoon before Christmas was the target party date. I preferred the years where Christmas Day fell on Saturday or Sunday as the party would be far behind come Christmas morning.

A dozen varieties of cookies would need to be baked, iced and decorated. Cakes, pies and hor doves would be prepared and ready for baking and heating. Serving plates and cups would be washed and dried. We had little time for playing in anticipation of the open house!

My brother, being younger, had the job of playing with all the children who came to the party so they would not be “trampled under foot” momma would say. But the truth was she didn’t want them to play with the two hundred nativity / manger scenes that decorated every shelf, side table and flat service in the house. My job was to make sure the table was full of food and that the dirty dishes and cups would get washed and returned to the big table. (I didn’t mind the chocolate covered peanut butter balls and the cheese biscuits, but I didn’t want to be washing dishes when the others were playing in the yard) I made a promise that year, “I would not make my future children wash dishes at any open house parties I might have down the road. Christmas was a time to welcome not wash.”

The work made it hard for me to see the joy. I know my mother’s intention was that the collective labors we give to neighbors, friends, members, and strangers in an effort to welcome in Jesus’s name.

What does it take to welcome someone in Christ?

One year while we were living in Eatonton, Georgia, mom had decorated the hall bathroom downstairs with fancy soaps and special towels and hermetically sealed the door closed with a large note on the outside of the door, which read: “Keep your nasty hands off the towels!!”

We were afraid to go in and she forgot to take the sign down. I don’t think anyone at the party went inside. But the did go upstairs to our bathrooms!

How will you and I continue to welcome others in Christ?

It is a life lesson that making others feel welcome is a self-less gift at times. Some people are difficult to include. Some people share little in common. Some people work as hard to avoid as we do to invite.

The world is hungry and doesn’t think it is for dinners and snacks.

The world is hungering for three things:

Being on the Correct side of things: Greatness in the sense of truth

Meaning – Strength and Majesty
Peace – Security and Peace

These are actually the things that are promised by the prophet Micah that the Messiah would be God’s People.

The prophetic call to look for Greatness even when it comes through a small town, God is working GREATNESS in small ways, not larger than life folks, but ordinary folks like us are where the GREATNESS is where we are to look for God to show up.

The Messiah we share is one who welcomes in strength and majesty. Jesus is the very one who welcomes us while we are yet sinners. Jesus is stronger than any of us. And he greats us as sons and daughters, co-heirs

Micah foretells that God is Great, Majestic and Strong, brings security and, offers peace.

The three things that world longs for can be found in the Messiah, in Jesus.

The trillion dollar question is: How do people find what they are looking for in the Christ we are sharing?

.. We need to be taking that STAND for Christ ourselves

.. We need to be refined our understanding and trust to in Christ

.. We need to be doing the things of Christ that reveal his strength, majesty, peace, and greatness.

So what does that look like for us?

The passage from Micah serves as a preview of the nativity story. Bethlehem and Mary are the recipients of coming Lord, and as the people of Israel and Elizabeth, we are to open the door and welcome the God who has decided to set up tent in the midst of our neighborhood and who is more fascinated with each one of us than with a throne surrounded with angels and archangels (Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:6-8), facing all the risks and passions of all human beings.

Most likely a Judean prophet during the eighth-century before Christ, Micah was responsible for delivering the divine oracle to God’s covenant people. We are told that “the prophecy about a new ruler to come from the town of Bethlehem (5:2), and the response to the question of what the Lord requires of them, signal Micah’s importance.”[1]

By December 23, our nation will have experienced midterm elections. Hopefully, the people newly elected or reelected will have the integrity to follow through on their promises. Hopefully, their promises will be in harmony with God’s concern for the “least of these.” The sermon for this entire Advent season and in particular for this fourth Sunday of Advent serves as a way to acknowledge and warmly welcome those who visit our church, those we meet in our paths, those who are thirsting for love, fellowship, help, and counsel.

The text can encourage people to serve as volunteers serving hot meals, visiting nursing homes, setting up a caroling church group. The sermon can raise open questions that invite people to find their answers after the worship service is over, or posit a list of possibilities by which people can incarnate the message of welcoming. This may mean hospitality among their own circle of friends and acquaintances, but especially beyond.

A part of our Wesleyan DNA is the ministry for and with the poor. Just as Advent leads us toward encountering the infant Christ in a stable and with the announcement of the Good News being first shared with lowly shepherds, so we are invited to become more mindful and aware of ministries with and for the excluded.

For personal reflection and sermon preparation:

  1. How do I and my congregation welcome Jesus into our area of greatest weakness, brokenness, or loss?
  2. 2. Do I leap for joy when I spend time in Scripture, worship, and fellowship with God’s covenant people?
  3. 3. How can I inspire parishioners to make the poor and the oppressed the center of their Christian concern and witness?
  4. 4. At some point in the sermon, pose an inductive question, such as “Who am I in this text? Am I Micah, the carrier of good news? Am I Mary who is welcomed by her family? Am I the leaping child in Elizabeth’s womb, excited about the presence and coming of Christ?”
  5. 5. Is this congregation a fellowship of excitement, an Advent community with a contagious faith and neighborhood involvement?
  6. 6. How can I set the tone through preaching for a greater passion for justice?

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Adv3: Do Zephaniah 3:14-20 Luke 3:7-18

Posted by myoikos in #2018#2mileneighbors#advent#do#donotbeafraid#goodness#holyspirit#jesus#lovelikejesus#service#sharingfaith on December 15, 2018

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Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord. [NRSV:OT]

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”  In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”  He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. [NRSV:NT]

Actions have consequences

  • When we do what God asks of us to do God is revealed and order and justice follows.
  • When we do not do what God asks of us we make God look bad, and chaos follows.
  • And inaction neither reflects God nor ourselves.
  • Key words: repentance, rejoice, festivity 

JOY Interrupts!

This week in the Advent season is known as the Sunday of joy. The Pink candle is the interruption of “Joy” to remind us of why we prepare for Christmas.  

Don’t rush ahead to the end of the story though, the Joy begins with God’s desire to love us, bless us, and to restore us from the chaos.  Rather than only finding meaning at the end of the journey, it is important for us to cherish the joy found along the way.

Did you ever know someone named, Zephaniah? The prophet’s text promises that the people’s fortune and future have been changed from judgment to hope, from destruction to restoration, from oppression to liberation and from dread to praise (Zeph. 3:14-20). 

This message comes in the process. Too often we are discontent and give up hope when the struggle is long, chronic and weary. Advent is our intentional infusion of joy into the journey toward Christ.

As those who know this hope in a 21st century world who is rushing toward winning, success and ‘profit’, little if any attention is give to the prophetic words of hope and joy before we arrive.

In the gospel text, John the Baptizer opens the curtains before those who seek to stop and thwart goodness and godliness of the coming of the One, the Messiah, who will bring a new act of salvation, (Lk. 3:7-18). 

The festivity right now center on the “Doing.” God has promised to change the people’s plight from a world of corruption, misplaced faith, failed authority, captivity under an oppressive powers, and inequities and injustices severely affecting the whole community. 

In the Old Testament passage we see the trouble when the spiritual folks, those concerned for holiness, worship, love for the poor, respect for God’s laws were all abandoned, and the prophet was sent to call the covenant people on it!

Eventually, God’s mercy is granted, and the promise expressed in the final chapter of Zephaniah’s divine oracle brings a new beginning. There is a song of joy in the air and a call to Do! This tiny word has a message of assurance and comfort.

“Do” implies that some action can help turn things around. In 3:16-17, we hear the prophet’s message: “On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: DO NOT FEAR, O ZION; DO NOT LET YOUR HANDS GROW WEAK. THE LORD, YOUR GOD IS IN YOUR MIDST.” 

The DO is to a call to worship, to praise, to celebrate, to recall the words of promise, the remember God is for us, to remind one another we are called to love even though we have not always been loving. The results: “Loud singing, a day of festival, disaster removed, renewal in God’s love and much more” (Zeph. vv. 17-18). 

In the gospel, What is the good news? 

  1. God loves us even though some consequences we bring upon ourselves, and some are the ripe or rotten fruit of others. (My bee hive) (National politics) (trusting others to ‘do’ for us – user/consumer mentality) God still loves us, longs for our trust,
  2. The “DO” that we are beginning is in our 2Mile Ministry. [INTRO TO PREPARE FOR 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS] the work we “DO” now is in anticipation of the joy we will share.
  3. We need Folks to share gifts to our neighbors through 2mile to show love without cost, hospitality of grace and the welcome of Christian community.

SIGN UPS: 2mile and 12 Days of Christmas for our neighbors…. anticipation of the hope to share!

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Advent 1 Stand Jer. 33:14-16 Luke 21:25-36

Posted by myoikos in #2018#advent#hopeinchrist#jesus#stand on December 1, 2018

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Key words: hope, redemption, alert

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” [NRSV: Jr 33.14-16]

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  [NRSV Lk 21:25-36]

Today we begin the four-week journey toward meeting Jesus, born anew in our lives, at Christmas. We call this time of preparing our ADVENT of Christmas. This is not Christmas, it is the anticipation and journey toward Christmas.

Advice: Don’t be in a hurry for Christmas, we might miss Christ when Christmas Day arrives.

Our first call is to Seek God’s Righteousness/Goodness

The Prophet Jeremiah pronounces that there is a coming of the Lord’s Righteousness and the world will see Justice and God’s understanding of what is Right and Wrong.

Frances has a wonderful opportunity through school to be an exchange student. She will be living in South Africa this summer and her new friend Amy will come to live with us this fall.  So as any family would, we have been learning a great deal about that country. For all the faults that every nation has, 80% of the country is Christian and of that significant portion, 80% attend church regularly. Why is church more popular in that part of the world? They have issues of justice that the nation continues to struggle through. I am interested to learn how God is showing up to help bring peace and safety, which we all seek.

The prophetic work in our weeks prior to Christmas come as an opportunity to study and practice what it means to live in AND show the world God’s righteous way of thinking, behaving and believing.

Jeremiah speaks of the work of a singular, tender branch keeping the family tree’s promise alive. God is not measuring us by volume, rather by faithfulness. POINT: Have Hope that God will use us, even in our weakest moments, by directing ourselves toward God.

Turn and Stand Up

Jeremiah invites us to TURN our minds to God in Advent. The Gospel reading from Luke challenges us to STAND UP.  Don’t be a “pew potato”. Don’t think it is someone else’s responsibility. Don’t wait for wind to blow your sails, move yourself into the blowing of the Holy Spirit.

This season is a time to begin the journey by Standing Up. The work of witnessing Righteousness and caring out Justice are the journey.

The first action of every journey is to get up and prepare to move, prepare to take action, prepare to face the apparent overwhelming odds that nothing will change for God if we sit here and wait until we die. Stand up! is the call.

It is in Luke’s gospel that we hear Jesus tender sprouts of the fig tree that will bear fruit even though it has been dormant and lifeless. This is much like the prophet Ezekiel call to preach and prophesy to the valley of dry bones calling for them to prepare to form and army, prepare to have the breath of God in your lungs and hearts.

Jesus tells the disciples that terrible signs and calamities will surround us, but this will be the best time to see Jesus showing up. When you know Jesus is near, STAND UP, life up your heads and follow.

The crisis times in our lives and in the life of the church are the very times that we prepare to TAKE A STAND, prepare to lift up our heads and affirm JESUS’s presence and hope for the world.

In a world divided by fear and ideologies, take action, and take action in the strength of Christ.

Thank goodness Advent is a time of preparing because we are not collectively ready to advance. But we are at the moment of standing up.

The opportunity of showing up! C. S. Lewis is quoted saying:

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. C. S. Lewis

  • TURN TOWARD GOD
  • PREPARE TO STAND UP
  • LIFT UP YOUR HEADS

Third: starting this Advent Journey requires HOPE.

The challenge given to us by the world, by our denomination, by our community is to be the presence of God’s HOPE for those who are in our circles of influence.

SIDE NOTE: Our circle of influence is not only those that we come in contact in our daily living, but also those whom we could be in contact with in each day. 

Simply summaries,

We begin Advent as a quest to find Christ in our own lives, but committing/recommitting our attention toward God, Begin my taking the first step toward God, and carrying the flag of Hope for a world that is looking to ideological approval, material feed happiness and lost in raging waters of despair, grief, doubt and fear. Yuck!

Pray with me:

Lord Turn my heart and mind and soul toward you.

Give me your strength to move from this stationary place into living that is fueled by your power.

Keep your hope in me that I might shine that life and light for someone else.