Archives

I Can Do All Things

I Can do All Things through Christ who strengthens me!

Pastor, you are going to live an incredible life!

You are going to make history. You are true to yourself and you follow your curiosity. You are open-minded, talented and will create something that will last forever. You will be able to influence people with your words, your way of life and good vibes.

Thank You God for the call You have placed upon my life.May I bring You Honor as I seek Your Face and Your will for my life!

Let It Go…

 

 

June 11, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Trinity Sunday!

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Hold-Out’s”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 8

Mark 10:17-31 MSG

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holdout

 

 

 

“Let It Go…!”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10, verses 17-31 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

As Nurse Faith sat next to Hope she began to pray. Now Hope had never had anyone do this for her before. She sort of had this sense that Faith was praying for her. As a matter of fact, she didn’t even realize that she had stopped crying and began to have a feeling of peace about her. What was it that this nurse had…this woman called Faith…that she didn’t, Hope thought to herself.

 

And as if her thoughts were heard nurse Faith looked at her and said, “It’s going to be OK. I just know it is. You and your friends will be ok too. It may take some time but it will happen.” “How do you know that?” Hope asked. “Well” Faith said, “you have to have a little faith…no pun intended…” They both laughed a little. “It is good to hear you laugh” Faith told her “too many people don’t know how to laugh. They can only concentrate on what has happened in their lives…or not happened in their lives. They go through their life bitter and resentful, unable to see the beauty of the day.”

 

“Well doesn’t everyone live like that?” Hope asked, “life is tough and there are so many things that happen in your life it just begins to add up and you kind of get crushed by the weight of it all.” “Oh, dear Hope, you have it all wrong…it not the life you have that matters. It’s what you do with that life that does. You can live your life being crushed by the rock you are pushing up a hill or…you can let that rock go and roll into the hands of God who can fix anything” Faith explained. “I wish I knew that for sure. I have pushing a heavy rock and being crushed in so many ways. I have lived alone so long I don’t think I can give up and trust anyone…let alone someone or something I can’t see” Hope explained to Faith. “Well my dear, that’s where faith comes in…again…no pun intended…”

 

 “How can I know for sure?” Hope asked. “Well try this…little by little…let something go to God. Maybe only one thing a day, Eventually I think you are going to just give everything all at once to God and that rock you’ve been pushing will suddenly become a pebble you can just walk right over. It won’t happen overnight. But God is able and ready to take our burdens…if we choose to believe and trust.” Faith told her. Faith put her arm around Hopes shoulder and said “Give it a shot. What do you have to lose other than the rock your pushing up hill…” “You have a point” Hope smiled. “Now let’s go check on your friend. There should be more news about her condition by now” As they walked down the hall, Hope wondered what was going to happen. She was a little nervous about seeing her friends but there was something about nurse Faith that gave her a sense of ease. She knew that this was going to be hard…letting go the rock, but it was something she needed to do. She didn’t realize how much she was going to need this new found thought pattern. But it was going to be a turning point in her life that she never expected.

 

Good morning. Happy Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the Trinity …. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…our God head three in one. This is what we believe as Christ followers. This is one of the foundations of our faith. Praise Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…Amen.

 

For weeks now we have been talking about what ails us. We have had a lot of good conversation over our ailments as we have been interactive with one another during our sermon time…so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Nurse Faith and how she wanted to help Hope with her inner issues. Now we have heard a lot about Hope, Joy, and Grace but we need to realize that it’s not just the situations around Hope but there are also situations within Hope herself that need a little mending. She too carries a lot to the table of friendship… Faith had no issue about talking about her faith…no matter where she was. I consider that being a bold Christian. You never know what will happen when we talk about God and our faith outside our church walls…It is what we do with our faith that helps us make a mole hill out of a mountain…so to speak…

 

I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to heal what ails us to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back our streets…the places where we are called to share the Gospel of Grace, Hope, Joy, and Faith. Without healing, what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrected people. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

Today I want us to continue to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

 

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear immobilizes us and keeps us stuck in the mud…unable to move forward for Christ and the Good News. fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

 

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

 

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity. As we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.

 

Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. Lady Ms. Trust loves to come in and stir up a whole lot of nothing and sit back as we begin to come unglued together because we are suspicious and untrusting each other.

 

What about holdouts? Merriam Webster gives us this definition of holdout:

: a person who refuses to reach an agreement until certain terms are met: a person who holds out

: an act of holding out for something

: a person who continues to do or use something after others have stopped doing or using it

We can all tend to be holdouts at times. Sort of like that rock analogy that Faith used with Hope. Pushing a rock and being crushed by it because it continues to roll back on us as we try to push it up a hill…and the hill is usually pretty steep…  Why do you think we holdout…hold on to things that do nothing but crush us? Give time to answer. Do you think that the church is a “holdout” at times and why? Give time to answer. What about our church here in Patten…what are we holding out or holding on to? Give time to answer. Do you think we can be used as fully as God wants to use us if we continue, why or why not? Give time to answer.

 

Being a holdout is a worldly way of living not a Christ centered way of living. In the scripture this morning, the young man did everything perfect as he followed all the rules and laws given…but…when asked to give up something that he was holding onto…his worldly possessions…he refused to do it. He kept holding out on the life he could have had. A life free of worry…a life of abundance…a life of joy. We too have those times when we hold on to things that just don’t really matter in the big scheme of things…those things that matter most to God. We hold on to grudges, we hold onto narrow thinking…we hold onto judgment …we hold on to prejudges…we hold onto…fill in the blank. We become sort of invalid because we are holding onto things that stop us from being the body of Christ…that stop us from being not only relevant but actually usable by God. The rich man walked away dejected…how many times do we walk away because we refuse to heal in the Light of Christ?

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But we cannot/will not let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

 

What are we being holdout’s about? Do we want to be healed or just continue on the road we are on? I we choose not to heal… there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Are we, you and I ready and willing to take Faith’s advice and bring our things we hold on to…those boulders we are trying to push up a hill…and little by little give them to God who will make rubble out of them…allowing us to step into His Glorious light of healing and grace?

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. Do you think we are a place that she would come and find us letting go instead of holding onto things that stop us from being the Light of Christ? We call ourselves a Hope Giving Church. Would Hope find the giving of mercy, of grace, of joy? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church as we work through our faith journey together trusting in the One who knows us best.

 

Maybe…just maybe…Hope will come through our doors. What will she find here?

 

Amen.

 

A Whole New World

November 13, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

After Trump Election

Psalm 29

Luke 21:5-19

Isaiah 65:17-25

Malachi 4:1-2

http://www.mycentraloregon.com/2016/11/12/over-200-reports-of-hateful-harassment-and-intimidation-post-election-splc-says/

https://reportuk.org/2016/11/12/hate-crimes-soar-across-the-us-after-donald-trump-elected/

 

 

“A Whole New World…”

 

Prayer for God’s illumination and for His word to be heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand, as you are able, for the reading of the Gospel Reading. I am reading from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 21, verses 5-19. Listen to the word of God…the comfort of and from God…for you and me, His people…the sheep of His keeping…

 

  • In Wellsville, New York, a baseball dugout was vandalized with a swastika and the words “Make America White Again.”
  • Nazi graffiti was also found painted on a building in South Philadelphia along with the words “Sieg Heil” and “Trump” with the T-replaced by a swastika.
  • In Rochester, New York, two rainbow flags were burned.

 

We live in a world that has truly gotten out of control. It seems as if everything is just blowing up all at once.

 

  • At San Diego State University, a female student wearing a hijab was robbed the day after the election by two men “who made comments about President-Elect Trump and the Muslim community,”
  • At San Jose State University, a female student was attacked from behind by an assailant who grabbed her hijab, choking her and causing her to fall, police said.

 

There have been over 200 hate crimes since the United States elected Donald Trump as our next president on Tuesday evening.

 

  • A woman wearing a hijab near the University of Michigan was forced to remove her headscarf Friday night after a man approached her and threatened to set her on fire, according to the university’s crime report.
  • these incidents of harassment and intimidation have been most prevalent at K-12 schools, according to the SPLC findings. Middle school students in a suburb of Detroit were caught on camera chanting “build the wall” during lunchtime the day after the election. At a high school in Maple Grove, Minnesota, a bathroom stall door was found defaced with the words “White America,” “Whites only” and other racial slurs

 

Our future…our next generation has joined in on the depravity of humanity…We are talking about young girls and boys re hating each other. Hate is a learned behavior…who are they learning it from…? These incidents come amid massive protests against Trump and divisive rhetoric protesters say was espoused by his campaign.

 

The Christian community claims we are in the last days. What do you think? The Luke scripture I just read speaks of “a time such as this.” There are times when all seems lost and anarchy seems to be the temperament of the world in which we live. It is a fearful time for many and for others…who are caught up in the chaos…it is a time that they have longed for. A time that everything gets set back to how it was in the “good old days”. It is a fearful time because we know what happened last time there was such hate in the world and we don’t want to see it happen again. History truly does repeat itself…especially when we didn’t learn the first time…They are claiming that the hate crimes are worse than the time of 911…

 

  • A pupil at Shasta High School in Redding, California, handed out ‘deportation letters’ to non-white students, just one day after Trump was announced president-elect.
  • ‘Black lives don’t matter and neither does your vote’, reads the graffiti scrawled on two walls in Durham, North Carolina.
  • Pupils at one high school were reportedly shouting ‘Sieg Heil’ and doing Nazi salutes, as well as calling black children ‘cotton pickers’ – among a slew of other racist attacks.

When I write sermon’s, I like to bring what is going on in the world to the forefront… How would you feel if this was slipped under the door of your home…?

  • ‘Attention!!!!’ the flyer, which is written in all caps, begins. ‘All n*****s and sp*cs have one week to vacate this building!!! ‘This is now a Trump friendly building! The people of America have spoken. The time has come for good decent white people to take back our streets from thugs and illegals!

‘We know who you are and where you live. If you are not out in one week, we will put you out! Immigration will now begin doing their job! Police will have the power to reclaim our violent streets from black thugs. ‘You have been warned! Proud American voter! Trump 2016’

How much deeper are we going to sink? Didn’t even have the guts to sign with their own name…only the description of what he had done…vote

 

Perhaps, we as Christ followers…you know Christians…should be even more serious about the Great Commission. OK…what is the commission? Give time to answer… And what does it mean to and for you and I? Again, time to answer… The signs of the times are right there in front of us. What are you and I going to do?

 

‘This is now a Trump friendly building! The people of America have spoken. The time has come for good decent white people to take back our streets from thugs and illegals! ‘We know who you are and where you live. If you are not out in one week, we will put you out! Immigration will now begin doing their job! Police will have the power to reclaim our violent streets from black thugs.

 

Maybe if we believed in the promises of God we would be more emboldened. We know the time and we will have difficulties as we stand up for what Jesus did and would do…

12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

 

So, what are the promises? What is the next chapter? What do we have to look forward too? Let me read a couple of my favorite descriptions of what it will be like when the old era (human time) is ushered out and the new era has come (God time).

Isaiah 65:17-25New International Version (NIV)

 

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years;

the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child;

the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

    or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.

23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.


Everything will be made new…made how God created it to be in the beginning…it all started in a garden and it will end in a garden. God truly is the master gardener… And

Malachi 4:1-2New International Version (NIV)

 

Judgment and Covenant Renewal

4 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

 

We are going to frolic…

We should be shouting for joy from the roof tops…we are going to dance and frolic for joy and for the love we feel or our God. All this evil will be gone… But in the meantime, …we have a job to do and it is not going to be easy. But that doesn’t negate the commission. Perhaps if we would begin to get excited about the fact our God will have the last word. Perhaps if we truly believe His promises to us. Maybe, just maybe, we would be too busy doing God’s work to fear. Perhaps if we believed and rejoiced others would be attracted to our joyful life and want it for themselves. Heaven is not full yet and we need to make it our job…no our choice to fill it with our neighbors, our friends our family…heck the stranger on the street. God doesn’t want anyone to perish. How would you feel if someone perished because of your complacency…because of my complacency…because of our inactivity? The time is set…we are here, you and I, for a time such as this. We know the end of the story…we know who is going to win… Now how about sharing that with others…because on that day…we will sing as Isaiah did in chapter 12:

Isaiah 12New International Version (NIV)

 

Songs of Praise

12 In that day you will say:

 

“I will praise you, Lord.

    Although you were angry with me,

your anger has turned away

    and you have comforted me.

2 Surely God is my salvation;

    I will trust and not be afraid.

The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense[a];

    he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water

    from the wells of salvation.

 

4 In that day you will say:

 

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;

    make known among the nations what he has done,

    and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;

    let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,

    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

 

AMEN

“The Making of a Saint”

 

November 6, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

All Saints Day

Psalm 8

Luke 6:17-34 MSG

Matthew 25:34-40 MSG

http://www.churchyear.net/allsaints.html

 

 Prayer for God’s illumination and for His word to be heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand, as you are able, for the reading of the Gospel Reading. I am reading from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 6, verses 17-34. Listen to the word of God for you and me, His people…

 

Saint:

: a person who is officially recognized by the Christian church as being very holy because of the way he or she lived

: a person who is very good, kind, or patient

Today…in the Christian Church we are celebrating “All Saint Sunday”. It is a day that we celebrate those saints among us and those who have gone before us. Now let me give you a little history about All Saint Day.

“It is when the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches commemorate every saint, known and unknown. The concept of All Saints Day is connected to the doctrine of The Communion of Saints. This is the concept that all of God’s people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification (called Purgatory in the West), are spiritually connected and united. In other words, Catholic and Orthodox Christians (and some Protestants) believe that the saints of God are just as alive as you and I, and are constantly interceding on our behalf. Remember, our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight-knit communion. The saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient. However, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians.

 

I like the thought of our prayers are joined with the “Heavenly Community of Christians”. WE are all connected in life and in death. We are all one family that will meet on day in the sky. But what makes a Saint? What criteria do we use in deciding that someone is a saint or not? I think that some of the answer is found in the Luke scripture I just read.

 

  • I think that the people who are considered saints seem to embody the “blessedness” in this scripture. No matter what they go through, they seem to trust God always and accept what they are going through. I think the main thing here is that they trust God. They may question what is going on but in the end, they say “thy will be done.”
  • It seems as if when things come up against them…when people are trying to bring them down…when people try to assonate their character or what they are called to do, they have that uncanny knack to be able to say “Well obviously I am doing something right.” They view this from heavens eyes…not worldly eyes. No one wants to look bad, no one wants to have someone tell them they are doing something wrong or have someone else show them up. Just as the Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, when someone makes certain people look bad…they do all they can do to stop them. They may not crucify them as they did Jesus but they try to kill them in many other ways…
  • They are some of the humblest people you would want to meet. They are down to earth and don’t get themselves all puffed up about themselves. As a matter of fact, usually when you complement them, they blush and hang their head. They will tell you it is not them but God…they will not take any credit for themselves but gives credit elsewhere…
  • They act completely the opposite from what the world acts. Instead of getting back at people they do the opposite. They are kind and loving to their accusers. They are not in some popularity contest with people and they don’t try to please everyone around them. They don’t compromise their ethics for anyone.
  • They love because they can. They don’t play favorites and love even the “un-lovable’s” around them. They not only hang out with other saints but also with those who are “unsaintly” perhaps their saintliness will spur others to want to live the same life…not that they would hold that over others…

So, these are just a few things that make a saint. I know plenty of people who have gone ahead as well as are still here that embody that whole sainthood thing.

 

Why would anyone even try to be a saint. In the world we live in…being a saint gets you nowhere. Trying to do the right thing gets you kicked right in the pats a lot of times. Why would we even want to look out for others…treat them as if they are special? Well the answer is…they are special. They are special and sacred to God so it should be with those who carry Christ’s name…who embody sainthood and so much more for He was God incarnate…Christians…Christ followers.

 

In the past few weeks, one scripture kept coming up…one theme kept creeping in…Matthew 25:34-40:

Read Scripture

I think God is trying to tells us something. I believe there is a message here that God is tryng to get across. Are we…I am not talking about we as Christ followers in general…I am talking about you and I…are we missing the boat somehow? Are you and I ignoring a nudge that God is trying to give us? Are we judging others…thinking they are not worth…fill in the blank? Are we allowing prejudices to become part of how we live and look at others? I don’t know about you but I have been taking a good look at my life and see places where growth is needed. How about you? How is it with YOUR soul? When we bring those attitudes to the cross of our Risen Lord Jesus and leave them there…we can come away newly created and ready to be those saints that leave a legacy behind us. So, what are you going to do now? Choice is yours to make. Are you willing to say “search me Lord and see if there is any wicked way within me and create in me a clean heart.”?

 

AMEN

What Do You Really Feel…?

 

 

October 23, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Break my heart/I want touch lives”

Psalm 145

1 Corinthians12:25-26

Romans 12:4-10

 

What Do You Really Feel…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

A reading from Paul’s 1st letter to the Christians in Corinth, chapter 12, verses 25-26. Listen to the Word of God…His Love Letter…to and for you and me…His beloved children…

 

 

Have you ever seen those commercials for the animal shelters? Awe man…they just get right to my heart. I am just an old softy when it comes to these commercials …and it doesn’t help as they are playing “The Eyes of An Angel in the background. I want to adopt all the animals…I even start crying sometimes. It just breaks my heart to see these poor animals. And most of them have been rescued from horrible situations. I don’t know who could ever hurt one of these little friends.

 

What breaks your heart? (give time for people to answer) There are so many ways that our hearts are touched…our heart breaks…for many different situations…the situations that are important to us.  It may be just looking around us…at the world around us… That alone can break out hearts. Speaking of the world around us, what do you think breaks God’s heart? What is it that He feels as He too looks around at what He created and called it good… Do we even care anymore about God’s heart?

 

Now remember, as I said last week, as we think about…as we ponder this question or these questions…God loves you and I so much that He thinks we are to die for… As a matter of fact…that is exactly what He did…die for sinners like us…He who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself… what breaks His heart and do we even care anymore…

 

We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization that to become community in the world…to continue to be relevant we, as Christ’s followers, need to wake up. Wake from our slumber…wake from our complacency…wake from our numbness and see the world and people around us who are looking for someone to reach out in love, hope and compassion. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Christ followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to look into the eyes of those in need and help fill that need. We are called to be the hands, feet and voice in the world.

 

Now all of this sounds great. These topics we have talked about are vital if we are going to change the world and bring God’s kingdom here on earth. But we are so tainted by the world around us how are we going to be able to change it? Our vision is so clouded with the haze of the enemy…that we cannot see clearly. We tend to not be able to see past our own nose. Well…your right…we can’t do this on our own. Your right, the enemy has put up such a smoke screen that we can’t see the truth half the time and the other half we are afraid for the truth.

 

The Corinthians Letter I read from comes from a time quite like our own. The church was fighting and back biting each other and Paul had to remind them not only who but whose they were…sound familiar. They were all concerned about themselves and their …individual agenda. They were fighting about who was better, who had the best programs, who had the most correct doctrine, who had the …Fill in the blank…you get what I am saying.

 

They forgot one of the most important fact about being the body of Christ…and we still struggling today to get this one right…WE ARE ONE BODY…not several different doing our own thing. So how do we turn the tide and come out victorious…of course with God’s help that is…

 

This is how we start…ask God to break your heart for what breaks His…God, I am standing here before You and I want to help but am running here and there not knowing what to do…what I need to be focused on. God, I am asking you to break my heart for what breaks Yours…give me Your eyes and Your heart for Your people… It is as simple as that. “How do you know this works Pastor?” …some of you may be asking. Well…since I prayed this for myself…since I decided to step out of the boat in deeper water…my heart has been changed. Those things that didn’t affect me before brings me to my knees in prayer. When people ask me for prayer I pray right there with them…where they are…even in a drug store or out on the street…If one part hurts every part involved hurts and works to heal…If one part flourishes every part flourishes and rejoices. When one part of God’s creation hurts, or is in need all of God’s creation…including you and me…hurts and when one part flourishes…we all flourish. We are all part of God’s creation so we are each part of the whole body…the whole of creation. Speak from the Spirit about God’s people and how God must grieve…

  1. My Anthem
  2. Division and strife
  3. Continue to back bite each other because of our own agenda
  4. Continue to gossip just to gossip…doesn’t even matter if it is true or not
  5. If we are the body of Christ why are we not healing…why are we not loving…why are we not speaking His love…why are we not caring…why are we breaking down and not lifting up

 

Romans 12 verses 4-10 gives us a clue about God’s design for His church. It is found in the 12th chapter and goes from verse 4 through verse 10…listen and find the clue about His church…Read the Passage…

We need everyone…even those people. When we turn them away we are missing a vital part of the body…a piece of God’s church…and it remains missing until our hearts break for them. Are we FAKE in our commitment to the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations…all people?

 

So…questions posed earlier:

  • What breaks your heart? Speak from the Spirit
  • What breaks God’s heart? Speak from the Spirit
  • Do you think His heart breaks when HE looks at His creation including us? Why? Speak from the Spirit
  • Do you even care? Chances are…at some point in time…someone has cared enough about you to help you through rough patch on your journey of faith…
  • Are you willing to be changed from the inside out as you pray for God to break your heart for what breaks His? That’s a question that only you can answer. There is no doubt about it. This is a prayer God will answer if you truly and humbly come before Him but be ready to be changed…

 

OK…synopsis…As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family. As we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in. As we come together the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. As we help others our focus is changed and we begin to think “we” instead of “me”. We begin to see a change happen within our communities when we begin to define…to specify what matters most.  As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me. As we open our hands and our doors we begin to create a better world not only for ourselves but in our community…our surrounding communities…and the world. We need to work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body… As we love a Jesus did our hearts and hands will be open to and for others. But we need to have our hearts broken from this world and all that it holds to be open to God’s vision and love of others.  Then and only then, we will become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is head and shoulders above the rest…who is the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…

 

Are you willing to be broken so that you may be made whole? Are you willing to pray that prayer that will change your life…that has changed my life? Are you willing to give it all to Jesus in sweet surrender and live your life abandoned to God and His purposes? We all get to have choices in life? What will you choose this day?

Amen

Right Here…Right Now…

 

 

October 30, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Start Living Right Now”

Psalm 148

Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 1:14-20

2 Corinthians 5:11-15; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Acts 17:24-28

 

Right Here…Right Now…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

I would ask you to stand, as you are able, for the Gospel reading from the Gospel of Matthew, verses 21-23. Listen to the Word of God…His Love Letter…to and for you and me…His beloved children…

 

Comfort zone…what comes to mind when I use the words “comfort zone”? Why do you think we create comfort zones for ourselves? Are you willing to step out of our comfort zone? I know for me it is hard to step out of my comfort zone. I like my comfort zone. It is a place where I feel safe and don’t have to worry about failing. As we stay in our comfort zone, we know how far we can go…it’s much more sensible for us to stay there if we are going to serve God. Right?

 

When God called me to ministry I had this fear of public speaking. Every time I had to do it I would stumble and stutter through whatever it was I had to read. There was no way I was going to be able to speak in front of a congregation every week let alone shepherd one. Now here is God calling me out of my comfort zone. What was I to do? I had said that I would do whatever God called me to do when I rededicated my life to God. I never realized how much I would have to step out in faith…

 

Now remember, as I said last week, as we think about…as we ponder this question or these questions…we remember that God loves you and I so much that He thinks we are to die for… As a matter of fact…that is exactly what He did…die for sinners like us…He who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself… are we willing to begin living in the right here and now? Are we going to trust God…like we proclaim…with our lives? Is it time to get out of the boat and get rid of our safety water wings and walk upon the waters of this world?

 

We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization that to become community in the world…to continue to be relevant we, as Christ’s followers, need to wake up. Wake from our slumber…wake from our complacency…wake from our numbness and see the world and people around us who are looking for someone to reach out in love, hope and compassion. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Christ followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to “look into” the eyes of those in need and help fill that need. We are called to be the hands, feet and voice in the world. Our hearts must be broken not so much for us and our agenda but for what breaks His heart…for His agenda…

 

So here we are at the end of ourselves. We have been talking about many things and have pondered much. But one thing has remained the same through it all…there was one question that was asked and only we can answer that question. What are you going to do?

 

In the Mark scripture this morning the men that Jesus spoke to all had the same question posed to them. They were asked by Jesus to follow Him…to become fishers of men. And in every invitation, the answer was the same…YES. Yes, I will change my life. Yes, I will leave everything and follow you. Yes, I will trust You with all that I have and am. Yes, I know that You will supply all since You are asking me to leave my profession. Jesus is still asking you and me the same question…will you follow me? Are you willing to follow me right here…right now…?

 

God is calling us right here…right now… “6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) When we gave our lives to Christ it no longer was and is our own. We were bought at a very High price…God’s own Son. So, we who believe are not our own.  11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:11-15)

 

We are called to be light for the world that lives in darkness…we are called to be the body of Christ…we are called to be fishers of men. Now I don’t do much fishing…OK I don’t fish…but when you go fishing do you go to places where everyone else goes or do you go to your “favorite fishing hole”? And what would you do if your fishing hole all the sudden had no fish? Would you go somewhere else if someone told you that there were more fish elsewhere? We need stop fishing the same fishing holes and go to where the One who created the fish tells us to go. We need to trust our guide that He knows where our special fishing hole is…each of us has a different place but we are all fishing the same type of fish.

 

We are fishing for soul…  not sole but soul fish. We may feel we have the perfect fishing spot but God may have other ponds for you and I to fish. We tend to keep using our own sonar to find the fish instead if God’s sonar to find them…funny thing is…our sonar may read there is no fish but we insist there is…we don’t want to leave the comfort of our surroundings…we know this private fishing spot and we gladly bring in this type of fish…we don’t want to risk reeling in a shark or something like that…

 

Acts 17:24-28 tells us;

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

OK…so we are fishing in the same spots…we are staying in our comfort zone…we are living in our buildings…and we are missing something vital to our Christian walk… God… He doesn’t live in our buildings…but within all of His creation. That also means that He also lives in the “un-comfort zone” places. It means that as we seek God and His will we have to reach out to those who are part of the body in which we profess…the body of Christ…out of our comfort zones and into theirs… We are all His offspring…some of us are the prodigals hoping someone from home will see their figure on the horizon and welcome them home.

 

So…questions posed earlier:

  • Are you and I willing to live right here…right now? Speak from the Spirit
  • Are we going to trust God with our lives? Speak from the Spirit
  • Do we need to get rid of the water wings and walk on the waters of this world? Speak from the Spirit
  • Are you will to use your gifts, your graces, your finances for the redemption of souls…bringing about change in the community around us and the world? Nothing belongs to us anyway. It is God who gave us the talents and the means. It is because of His great love that we have all that we have. We may be saving for a rainy day but there are people out there who are having a rainy day right now who could use our help.
  • Are you willing to answer the call of Jesus as He uses you for His agenda? That’s a question that only you can answer. There is no doubt about it. God is calling us to a new thing…and it involves you and me…do you not perceive it…

 

OK…synopsis…As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family. As we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in. As we come together the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. As we help others our focus is changed and we begin to think “we” instead of “me”. We begin to see a change happen within our communities when we begin to define…to specify what matters most.  As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me. As we open our hands and our doors we begin to create a better world not only for ourselves but in our community…our surrounding communities…and the world. We need to work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body… As we love a Jesus did our hearts and hands will be open to and for others. But we need to have our hearts broken from this world and all that it holds to be open to God’s vision and love of others.  We can start living right here…right now…out of our own little world into the vast possibilities of the Reign of God. We need to pledge our support…our presence, our energy and resources as we live for the right here right now in the world. Then and only then, we will become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is head and shoulders above the rest…who is the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…

 

We are the body of Christ…good bad or indifferent we need to get along. We need to be stepping out of our comfort zone and meet the other parts of the body where they are…by the way…we can’t be the true body of Christ without them. We all get to have choices in life? Are you going fishing or not…? By the way…before you answer that question…and yes, it is between you and God…I want to leave you with 1 more piece of Scripture that is found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7 verses 21-23:

True and False Disciples

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Food for thought…

 

AMEN

Who do you love?

 

October 9, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Love Them Like Jesus”

Psalm 67

Matthew 22:34-40

Luke 10:25-37

John 13:34-35

 

Who Do You Love…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

I would ask you to rise, as you are able, for the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, verses 34-40…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.

 

 

Who in your life do you love? Why do you love them? Do you think they love you back? Why? Now here is a tough question for you…is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? You know…those people who you can find nothing within them to love. And it may not even be a person you know. It may even be a group of people…race, religion, color, body type, nationality…fill in the blank.

 

The world in which we live in has really over used the word “love.” We say we love our family, we love our friends, we love our church. But we also say things like we love our car, we love this song, we love food, we love cheesecake…you get the jest of what I am saying. Now I don’t know about you but I do not love my car the same way I love my children or husband…I do not love cheesecake as much as I love my friends…ok at times that may be true…but usually not.

Now we have said that God is the one who defines family. What about love? Do we believe that God defines love? And if so, do we go by God’s definition or our own? Now remember as you think about…ponder this statement…God loves you and I so much that He thinks we are to die for… As a matter of fact…that is exactly what He did…die for sinners like us…He who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself… Now that’s a love story…

 

We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I really define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who really defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization that in order to become community in the world…in order to continue to be relevant we, as Christ’s followers, need to wake up. Wake from our slumber…wake from our complacency…wake from our numbness and see the world and people around us who are looking for someone to reach out in love, hope and compassion. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Crist followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to look into the eyes of those in need and help fill that need…

 

But what are we willing to do to be the hands and feet…to have those open doors. We as United Methodist claim “Open hearts, open minds and open doors”, do we really fulfill that claim or does it look much different than that? We claim we “Follow Jesus Christ, by Making Disciples, For the transformation of the world”, how are we doing with all of that? And it is not just us. It is we as Christ followers…those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior…

 

In the Matthew scripture I read this morning, the leaders of the synagogue got together to question Jesus. I think that His answer is something we as His followers should really ponder upon. It seems as if we have forgotten who should be at the top of our love meter…

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So if we love God and other we would be able to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets. This a truth of God’s word. If we love God and others we won’t do anything to sin against them. So very simple but we just can’t do it…thank you God that you sent Jesus to do what I couldn’t.

 

Ok…so who are our neighbors? I am glad you asked that…let’s see wat God says about that in His word. Let’s turn to Luke 10 verses 25-37:

Luke 10:25-37New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and do likewise…anyone…anywhere…anytime…who ever we see on the streets…on the television…etc.…is our neighbor. Ok…people of ISIS…are they our neighbor? God says yes they are but…do we have to agree with what they are doing? No…how can we help them as our neighbor? Pray…pray…and pray again… This is the hard part of loving others. Even when they do evil…we are to still love them…not what they do.

 

Ray and I were talking about this yesterday. We…as humanity…more times than not…don’t even love ourselves. We feel we are worthless or whatever other reason there may be not to love ourselves. So how are we to love others as ourselves if we don’t even love ourselves? We have no gage…no rule…to go by. We just simply don’t know how to truly love.

 

We figured this…now I think this is an important statement in order to learn to love others. In John 13:34-35, Jesus give us a new command:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We have that litmus test…we now have the rule we need. It has nothing really to do with us but everything to do with Jesus. We are to love as Jesus did and does. We no longer go by love others as yourself but to love one another as Jesus did and does. Jesus had to come and show us because we cannot do it on our own. We can’t pray for our enemies…we can’t unconditional love others…we can’t Fill in the blank…but in and through Jesus Christ we can. I can, you can,we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us…

 

 

 

So questions posed earlier:

v Who in your life do you love? Well we will each answer that differently but we usually love our family and friends…and food of course…

v Why do you love them? Usually it is because they love us back. Also because of how they treat us…take care of us…make sure nothing bad happens…

v Do you think they love you back? Why? We usually will answer yes to that because of how they show their love to us…in various ways…

v Is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? Chances are…at some point in time…there will be people who may be hard to love in our lives…then again we too may be a “hard to love” person to someone else…

v What would it take for you to love like Jesus did and does? That’s a question that only you can answer but remember…we are to die for in our Fathers eyes…

 

OK…synopsis…As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family. As we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in. As we come together the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. As we help others our focus is changed and we begin to think “we” instead of “me”. We begin to see a change happen within our communities when we begin to define…to specify what really matters.  As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me. As we open our hands and our doors we begin to create a better world not only for ourselves but in our community…our surrounding communities…and the world. We need to work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body… Then and only then, we will become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is head and shoulders above the rest…who is the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…

 

What is it going to take for you…for me…for us as Christ followers to love as He did and does? Are you willing to learn to love yourself and in turn love others? If we are so unlovable, why would the Creator of the universe, the same One who created you and me, care enough to send His very best…His own Son so that we could be saved from sin and grafted into the family of God? Why?

 

Amen