UMW Meeting with Gisela Mann - 10/4

October 13th, 2017

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 UMW MEETING

Our UMW was excited to have a special guest for our October meeting.  Ms Gisela Mann, whose family survived the Holocaust, is now a hospice chaplain and a dynamic speaker.  She spoke to our group on Wednesday, October 4th.  

09/24 - Jonah: Refusing God’s Call

September 27th, 2017

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Wrong Turn:

Jonah - Refusing God’s Call

Jonah 1:1-4, 12-17

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  • The Story of Jonah: the biggest "fish story" ever?

    • Difficult for the modern mind...

      • BUT for those who believe that the God of the universe was born 2,000 years ago in a small Jewish town, this is small potatoes!
      • ...AND Jesus did say, "For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights." - Matthew 12:40
    • The Sequence:
      • God calls Jonah to proclaim judgment to Nineveh, the capital of an enemy nation
      • Instead Jonah runs away and winds up in the belly of a fish
      • Jonah cries out to God and is spit up on land
      • Jonah preaches to the people of Nineveh
      • The rulers, people, and animals of Nineveh repent, and God spares them
      • Jonah is petulant, set up a shelter to watch what he hopes will be Nineveh's eventual destruction
      • God had a bush to grow to give Jonah shade, then a worm to come to kill the bush; Jonah is more upset and basically says "kill me now!"
      • God replies in Jonah 4:10-11; and the book ends on His question...

 

 

 

 

  • Interpretation

    • So tempting to say, "Do what God says or you'll wind up in the belly of a fish!" But no, this story is about...
    • The wideness of the mercy of God
      • Jesus refers back to this no doubt because God is showing mercy to the Gentile people who were declared enemies of Israel
      • Jonah wanted them dead for the sake of his people; God wanted them brought out of spiritual darkness
    • How we deal with the call of God upon our lives that we disagree..
      • Do we run? Do we ignore it?

        • Some may say, "If God speaks to me then I'll certainly do it!" God does speak to us, through His word, in prayer, sometimes even through the "coincidences" of our lives and in the stillness of our hearts
        • Do we make a habit of listening?
      • Do we grudgingly act? Then complain?
        • Jonah's story was intentionally left on a question: Shouldn't God feel compassion for those in spiritual darkness?  And shouldn't we?
        • This was as much about Jonah's spiritual development as Nineveh's, yet we know Nineveh How do you think Jonah answered the question?

"Well yes, Lord, BUT..."  I think this was his answer, because it has often been my answer.  Maybe it's often been yours as well.  But doesn't the Lord deserve more than our resistance?

09/10 - Alone in the Dark?

September 15th, 2017

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Alone In The Dark

Daniel 6:1-23

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  • Didn't we just do this?

    • Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego and "Even If"
    • Differences:
      • Different king

        • The list: King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, to Belshazzar the co-regent of Babylon, to King Darius I of Persia, and Cyrus king of Persia
        • Also manipulated by politics
      • Closer to other Biblical images
        • More reminiscent of depression
      • Depression?
        • Finding someplace to hide might sound good right now...

          • Two BIG hurricanes
          • 1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico (90 dead)
          • North Korea has an H-bomb!
          • Scripture does acknowledge these times
            • people hide in caves, BUT in that scenario, caves mean safety
            • we're looking at when the "caves" are traps
          • Biblical Examples:
            • Jonah in the fish, under the tree
            • Elijah in the cave
            • Jesus in the Garden
              • "My soul is weary, even unto death."
            • Situational Examples:
              • Two churches on HWY..
              • Chris calling attention to how "hip-hop artist Logic performed his suicide prevention track “1-800-273-8255” on the MTV’s VMA stage, bringing many in the audience to tears."
              • Deaths for 15 to 34 year olds, leading causes:
                • 1st is accidental death
                • 2nd is suicide...
              • Over-spiritualizing this scene?
                • Don't forget that this was written by a people in captivity to a people in captivity...
                • Also never underestimate the cleverness of Scripture:
                  • There are two people alone in the dark in this story, reflecting the complexity of life: Daniel and Darius...
                • But what is the advice, the prescription?
                  • Trust in God... Can it really be that simple?

                    • But is it simple? You have to:

                      • Believe there is a God
                      • Believe He is aware of you and cares for you
                      • Believe you find your purpose in Him
                      • Believe He will bring light into the darkness, if not for you, then through you
                    • The entirety of Scripture in one sense is a constant call to TRUST IN GOD
                      • And the fullness of God's revelation in the Gospel is that we can only trust in God, not in ourselves
                      • We were not created to live in the "existential angst" of the modern age; we were never meant to be alone in the dark
                    • If you are dealing with this, then a part of your self-care should be a series of reminders:
                      • God is real. He is here. He is aware of me and of my hurt. He cares deeply for me, and loves me.  My life finds its meaning in Him, in offering all that I am for Him to live through.  He will bring light into my darkness.  But even if He doesn't bring it to me, He will assuredly bring it through me!  I can trust Him, and let my fear in the darkness go.

09/03 - Acts of God

September 6th, 2017

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Acts of God

James 1:2-4; 2:14-17

 

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  • In the News...

    • Hurricane Harvey!

      • Facebook post: "Just like a man..."
      • A little of the blame game is coming out
        • Including what shoes the First lady is wearing?!?
      • But I have been looking at other "Harvey" news...(I'll share in a min...)
    • A Shift of Perspective
      • Question: How are the following listed?

        • A person answers a cell phone, causing them to wreck their car... AT FAULT
        • A different person drags them out of the smoking car and aggravates their injuries... NO FAULT (good Samaritan clause)
        • Months later the same driver buys a new car and parks it in their driveway overnight. At around 2am there is a loud crash, and the unlucky driver finds that lightning struck a tree, which collapsed onto the car...  ACT OF GOD
        • SO, those things where "nature" is at fault are blamed on God?
      • The Gospel's take
        • In Scripture, God is described as sovereign. BUT the world is described as "cursed" because of what humanity has done.

          • If you take Adam and Eve literally, as Paul and Jesus seem to do, then the brokenness of the creation is laid at the feet of the pinnacle of God's creation, humanity. By their actions, death (decay? entropy?) entered in as a fundamental part of creation.
          • Look at it another way: The federal government backs flood insurance for flood-prone areas that local banks would never back by themselves. So people build there.  Our warning and forecast systems are not very reliable, so people get tired of taking precautions for all the possible disasters that never happen.  And then one does.  And this is God's fault?
        • God is described as sending good and bad into our lives (read Job), in both testaments. Sometimes we are being "disciplined" by God (though note that discipline is not necessarily retribution).  But sometimes the bad stuff happens as a window to the better stuff ahead (God works all things to the good of those that love Him).  Have you ever been inconvenienced, then realized you had a "divine appointment" to attend?
      • "Acts of God" from the Gospel Perspective:
        • Events leading to new perspectives, lessons learned, character developed, and faith strengthened, including:
        • Inexplicable Miracles & "God-incidences"
        • Actions taken through the hands of His people intentionally following Him
        • Actions taken through those following the prompting of the Spirit as God draws them to Himself
      • Back to the News:
        • Over the past months, it's been all about the brokenness in all of us, not at all about God's image and God's Spirit leading us

          • Though they won't say it, you know each when you see it...
          • (And you might begin to think, "I no longer recognize my country. Are we no better than this?")
        • But since Harvey, there have been other stories. These are the Acts of God done in His name, or at the leading of His image and the Spirit's calling.
          • And so very many have been a breath of fresh air, because we see our fellow broken Americans acting in love and faith and in the interests of others. We see what we hoped was still there, but were beginning to wonder about...
        • Some Acts of God:
          • Three teenagers spending all day rescuing people in boats
          • A furniture store owner opening both locations as shelters, sacrificing all his inventory
          • A tough-as-nails black MMA fighter rescuing a man wrapped in a confederate flag
          • Stats that 1 out of every 5 people in the shelters are volunteers
          • Stories of people abandoning their cars, knowing they would soon be flooded, to take their boats out to rescue others
          • A Chic-fil-a order for sandwiches and a boat. The order was delivered on jet skis with a complementary rescue.
        • Who shall we be? As Christians?  As Americans?
          • Before the mud-slinging and the muck-raking starts up again, take heart knowing this: we still are the people that pull together regardless of race, class, or politics, or at least we can still choose to be
          • What choice will you and I make this week??

08/13 - Recovering Joy: “Even If…”

August 16th, 2017

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NOTE #1:  I'm trying a new filter that removes long pauses during the sermon; please let me know if you find it useful or not.

NOTE #2:  Dur to copyright restrictions I cannot post the song that I sang at that end of the sermoon, but I can link to the original artist on Youtube (who, let's face it, sings it WAY better).  Here it is - EVEN IF

 

Recovering Joy: “Even If…”

Daniel 3:13-18; Romans 8:35-37

 

  • Postscript from last week: "conquer evil by doing good" (from Romans 12)

    • Hatred and violence always spread, always intensify, always claim lives in the absence of the love of Christ that dares us to love and care for our enemies. What happened in Virginia yesterday was the escalation of hate. 
    • We are told to "bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.... [To] never pay back evil with more evil.... [but to] do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." Dear Lord, let it be!
  • Old Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego...
    • The Story

      • Unwilling to bow to an idol (of the state!)
      • Thrown into a furnace
      • Unharmed, with another walking in the fire with them!
    • Their great statement of courage summed up in "even if He does not"
      • An acknowledgement that the flames sometimes consume the followers of God
      • Something we only understand by analogy, as we compare the trials of life to storms on seas that Jesus calms, or fires in furnaces that He makes safe
      • We pray for the deliverance, but cannot escape the "even if"
    • Paul in Romans, and "More than Conquers"
      • Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ

        • Also implied, nothing that happens to us proves that Christ doesn't love us
      • Martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel is explicitly mentioned
        • Remember, Paul watched approvingly while Steven was stones to death
      • But in this we are "more than conquers" having "overwhelming victory?"
        • What is going on here?
      • An exercise, and experience of, Joy
        • Joy as defined last week:

          • A glimpse of the eternal which places a longing in your heart more fulfilling than any earthly pleasure or satisfaction, that leaves within us a firm conviction of the temporary, limited nature of this world
        • The amazing truth: sometimes the very pain or sorrow or fear or uncertainty we experience causes Joy to rise up within us
          • Before he was stoned, Steven saw "the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!" (Acts 7:56)
          • While in jail Paul and Silas sang, and the earth shook and the cell door was opened (Acts 16:16-40)
        • Why is that? Because in our broken (fallen) condition, when we have found health and wealth and security, that is when we start to forget about God, that is when we start to lose our Joy
          • The ancient Christians had an actual good theological approach to suffering: it drew us closer to Christ, remade us more in His image

            • That doesn't mean we like it! (If we do, there's something wrong!)
            • That doesn't mean we deserved it! (Sometimes just the opposite!)
          • This means that when we face suffering or uncertainty, we turn first to God, face it with as much courage as we can, lean on one another for support, pray for God's deliverance, but have the firm conviction that EVEN IF things go the way we dread, that God has something beautiful waiting for us on the other side of the trial!

08/06 _Recovering Joy, Conquering Evil

August 9th, 2017

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Recovering Joy: Conquering Evil

Romans 12:9-21

 

  • Today is busy, so let us...

    • ...set up a series on JOY
    • ...and make one starting suggestion about it

 

  • Are we lacking in JOY?

    • As Americans we must be, as we are:

      • frustrated and angry
      • hooked on our addictions
        • is not "getting high" an attempt to counterfeit joy?
      • But as Christians, JOY is our birthright!
        • Not talking about happiness or pleasure
        • my (our) experience...
        • S. Lewis wrote of "...an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which... must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again... I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power...”
        • It is a longing that is a promise. It reveals the shallowness of pleasure, and the transience of happiness. Neither the pursuit of happiness nor of pleasure will lead to a life of fulfillment as the pursuit of JOY will.
      • So when we speak on things that kill our JOY and how to fight against them, realize that an increase in happiness is only a pleasant side-effect.
    • Paul's "Scattershot" Advice (vv. 9-16)...
      • 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. - Love the sinner, hate the sin?
      • 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. - Don't get jealous, irritable, petty...
      • 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. - The protestant work ethic?
      • 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. - Keep things in perspective; maybe touches on JOY
      • 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. - Be the Good Samaritans!
      • 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. - This point soon to be expanded...
      • 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. - Meet people where they are.
      • 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! - This from an ex-Pharisee!?!
    • ...And One Targeted Joy-Killer: The Urge to Hit Back (vv. 17-21)
      • Don't seek payback (v17), but live peaceful lives (v18).
      • Let go of revenge and let God deal justly, for His anger is always just (v19):
        • Can God be angry and just?

          • Is anger towards the abuser of a child morally just? Yes
          • Are we perfect in our administration of justice without vengeance? No
        • "Pay back" good for evil, and maybe lead to a change of heart (v20)
        • And here's the BIG point in verse 21:
          • Evil is done to you; let's say someone hits you. Your natural reaction is to "hit back," sometimes with justice, sometimes with overwhelming force so that they will never even think of hitting you again!

            • And you think that by doing this good has triumphed over evil?
          • But Paul's implication is this: the evil was in them, but if you seek vengeance, now it is in you! The violence has been (at least) doubled.
            • Now don't avoid the point by talking about national policy and wartime actions, this is on the level of personal interactions. This is about the person who cheated you out of a promotion at work, so you let drop what you know or suspect about their office romance and get them fired, and break up their family.
          • If we really want to conquer evil, we must conquer that temptation within ourselves. And we do that by doing the good that is often so hard to do.
            • Even in our imaginations of "man, if I could get away with it, I would _________!!!" Maybe especially there.  Because the real battle that is fought for Joy in our lives is fought not in our circumstances, but in our hearts!

07/30 - Our Hope and Strength

August 5th, 2017

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Our Hope and Strength

Romans 8:22-23, 26-30

Yes, an obvious allusion to a recent birth this week, but...

  • Let's get real, here.

    • Deep questions:

      • Have you, as a Christian, ever felt like you could not bring yourself to _______? Have you felt your strength was failing because you were empty of _______ for the future?  Have you ever thought to yourself, "life has to be more than this!"  Have you asked yourself, "Where has my joy gone?"
    • Maybe there is an easy answer.
      • Loss of loved ones? Financial instability? Health problems?
      • Maybe you are described by the bumper sticker, "If you are far from God, guess who moved?" Maybe distraction, pride, overwork, etc. have taken your time from God.  Maybe you've not gotten serious with Him in a while, or ever.
    • Or maybe it is something more....
      • v23a "And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering."
    • There is something wrong in the West
      • In the 1800's a war broke out between the two foundations of our civilization: Jerusalem and Athens, a.k.a. Faith and Reason

        • 1st front, the "Higher Criticism" of the Bible assumed God's absence in the formation of Scripture; 2nd front, Darwin's theory of evolution assumed God's absence in the formation of the natural world
        • At the same historical moment, around one hundred years after the formation of the Methodist movement and the American Revolution, God was removed (in elite opinion) from the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature
      • "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3 (NIV)
        • And now we are as a culture divided between those searching desperately for any firm foundation for life, and those who feel their foundations are under constant threat of erosion
        • And by "foundations" I mean the BIG ones, like "does life have meaning?" and "does anything I do make a difference?"
        • For the Christian, the meaning is found in God, and His assurance that in Christ we can make an eternal difference in our lives and the lives of others
        • The "best" post-Christian answer our thinkers could come up with was to say that we should defy the meaninglessness of life by choosing and implementing our own purpose. Does that sound sufficient?
        • Even if you've never heard that idea expressed, you are being evangelized by it. Or by the idea that life is about pleasures, or power, or that "whoever dies with the most toys wins."  Does any of that sound sufficient?
        • Eventually some come around to the idea that this life is about helping others. Well guess where that came from?
      • Here's the Good News
        • There is more than this life:

          • v23a: Yes, we and all of creation are groaning, waiting to be released from the struggle against sin (the struggle to determine and do the right thing) & the every day reality of suffering!
          • v23b: But we are also said to "wait with eager hope!"
            • The happiest Christians have always seemed (to me) to be those living this life with heaven in view!
          • (b/c there's more than this life,)There is more to this life:
            • v26-30: And the Holy Spirit within us takes our frustrations and pain and delivers them to the Father.  And through the Son we have this promise that everything we do and endure is "pregnant" with meaning and purpose, even (especially!) when it seems random or vindictive.
          • Our Calling in this time and place:
            • We have a responsibility to get serious with God, and change course when hindered by:

              • distraction, pride, overwork, etc.
            • We are asked to join together, to support each other in times of :
              • loss, distress, financial instability, health issues
            • We are ambassadors to a broken and hurting generation, with a message of a meaningful life now, and a glorious life to come
              • We are called by God to be the Good Samaritan, to see the wounded, and offer them healing, and in so doing find an eternal purpose to our actions as we become God's hands and feet. (And often find our own healing through focusing on others.)
              • We are called by God to be His hands in this world, with our feet are planted firmly in the next, to let His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, reminding ourselves and each other that our Hope and Strength is found in Him.
                • Psalms 46:1-4a (Geneva Bible, 1560)

07/23 - Go and Do Likewise

July 26th, 2017

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Go and Do Likewise

Luke 10:25-37

  • Now get it right!

    • Simpler times...

      • How many of us remember this from our childhood? "It's a beautiful day in this _____________,..." 
      • Those were the days when I might say, "Excuse me. Can I go outside now?" And English teachers (and experts in grammar) would reply: "Not can I go outside.  May I go outside."  Didn't you then just want to use a double negative in their presence.
    • A Persnickety Theologian
      • "An expert in the Law" asked Jesus a question. Now this could have been someone who loved to talk theology.  But I have a feeling he was the persnickety kind of theologian. 

        • "We were really lucky!" "No, we were really blessed!"
        • Or "For God so loved the world that God gave God's one and only... son."
      • He wanted it precise!
    • Answering the Question
      • The question itself: "Who is my neighbor?" Where are the boundaries of where I show concern?  I can't love everybody, can I?  That would be exhausting!

        • We insulate ourselves (and sometimes it is necessary!) by grouping those we can and can not afford to think or care about.
        • But "they are not like us" removes sympathy. The most dangerous time for a group or category of persons is when they are designated "not really persons" like "us."
          • : Many Amerindian tribes called themselves "People."
        • The example:
          • 1st man cared about no one other than himself, his time, his wealth, and his ceremonial sanctity.
          • 2nd man might have helped if he recognized him (sacrificing time, wealth, and sanctity).
          • 3rd man helped knowing this was a person from outside his "neighborhood."
        • The answer:
          • Every human being is our neighbor. Every one, as all are made in the image of God.
          • Sometimes love is extravagant, sometimes love must be tough, but love is to be shown to all.
        • Answering the Motivation
          • The question behind the question: "Doesn't 'loving my neighbor' conflict with 'loving God' sometimes?"

            • The first Love is all about loving the real, the true, and the living God, but we as broken people often try to define ourselves by what (and who) we are against. So how can you be my neighbor if you're on another team?

              • : Jesus in hot water for healing on the Sabbath.
            • Expert wanted to prove to himself he was spiritually doing well. So Jesus told him a parable about doing good, instead.
          • The example:
            • In the parable the Priest and the Levite, who are both expected to be the holiest among the Jews, take the least holy actions by trying to preserve their holiness (cleanness).
            • It is the person from "a different team" who has an imperfect understanding of God who takes actions pleasing to God.
          • The answer:
            • The priest and Levite (and Expert) are being spiritually selfish, as they are most concerned about preserving their own sanctity
            • Jesus directs the expert to an outward focus
          • What it Means for Us
            • Are we exhausted by the brokenness we see around us?

              • It's thrown in our face every time we read a paper or watch the news, so much that we might despair of making a dent in it.
              • "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 NIV
              • In the parable, the Samaritan "happened" by. He was there.  The need was before him.  He was local.  And he made a difference in the traveler's life.  
            • Are we inwardly focused? Fear based?
              • "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." 9:10a
              • "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." 1 John 4:18 NRSV
              • Must we regularly and honestly examine our relationship with God to see if it is healthy?   Must we live in a fear that stunts our love of others and paralyzes us with the danger of doing the wrong thing? No
            • Must we always remember that God is Love, and listen for His prompting for where we can pour His love out on others?
              • You betcha.
            • Go thou and do likewise!

07/16 - Sharing the Stories

July 19th, 2017

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Sharing the Stories

Psalm 145:3-7 (verse 3 cut off)

"3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness...."

 

  • Why we do the things we do...

    • "Vacation" Bible School = A LOT of effort!
    • An over-used phrase: "you planted a seed"
      • "6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work." - 1 Cor 3:6-8 NLT
      • What are the seeds?
        • Holy actions done in Christ's name that make memories
        • ...and STORIES of the Good News of God's Love in Christ
          • Old and New Testaments, and personal testimonies
        • The Purpose of Church
          • Filling ourselves with sacred stories to have the Mind of Christ
          • Preparing ourselves for and facilitating ministries of service, so that we act as the Body of Christ
          • Praising and worshiping (loving!) God, culminating in that Great Day in which we all rest from our labors and worship in His Presence
        • Back to the Basics today...
          • In our songs and confessions we have worshipped...
          • In our participation and donation we have served
          • Now let us share remember the stories...
        • One Life Story, one Short Story, and one Parable (and how to read them)
          • With EVERY story we are called to not just gather information, but to place ourselves in the story, see ourselves in its people
          • A Life Story: Abraham's Journey of Faith
            • Called by God Have I had a vision that others could not see?
            • Along with his wife... Have I ever had to trust in another's plans, praying they're not deluded?
            • failed to trust God Have I ever struggled to trust God, or tried to fulfill God's promise through my methods?
            • Lot took the better fields. Have I ever been taken advantage of; have I taken advantage of another's good nature?
            • Yet Abraham argued with God to preserve Lot's life. Have I prayed for a friend who betrayed me?
            • Isaac is born, Ishmael and Hagar are cast out. Have I been betrayed, or the betrayer?
            • God tests Abraham Have I trusted God in times of disappointment and anger?
          • A Short Story: David and Goliath
            • Goliath mocked Israel. Have I faced an impossible task?
            • David could not believe it. Have I ever seen something others have missed, that seems so clear to I but to no others.  Have I been impatient with another unjustly?
            • When David offered to fight, king Saul gave David his own armor, but it just weighed David down. Have I been weighed down by others expectations of how things should be done? Or find myself saying, "but this is the way we've always done this!"
            • One slingshot, and one stone to goliath's forehead, was all it took. In a moment of crisis, have I trusted God, and been delivered?  Have I ever thought, "If I had trusted God, that might have been me!"
            • Saul would soon become jealous of David. Have I done the right thing, won the victory, and been punished for it?
          • A Parable: The Good Samaritan
            • “Who is my neighbor?”  Have I justified my behavior?
            • “A Jewish man was attacked."  Have I been injured by life?
            • “A priest came along and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over but also passed by."  Have I seen others ignore my pain.  Have I been to busy to see the pain of others?
            • “A Samaritan came along, and felt compassion for him." Have I given extravagant mercy and grace, as was given to me?
            • “Now go and do the same.” Have I heard the words of Jesus, and let them change me?
          • Making the Stories Ours
            • Wow preacher, I could have done that!

              • But are we doing it? And not just on Sunday or during VBS...
            • What are we?
              • Someone has said we are the sum of what we've done (our memories). We are more than that! 
              • But there is something to learn here about the Gospel:
                • If it is our memories that shape us
                • and our memories are the pieces of our story
                • then taking God's story into our heart shapes us into reflections of Him
              • Let Us Make His Story Ours!!

07/09 - Who Are You Pulling For

July 15th, 2017

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Who are you Pulling for?

Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30

 

  • Pulled in two ways?

    • An old-time plow...

      • Some of you may have had this experience (growing rare)
      • For first-century Jews, it was instantly relatable
    • The Weight of the Yoke
      • To rabbis, the "yoke" was their teaching (the Yoke of Law)
      • Jesus called them out on having too heavy a yoke (uselessly burdensome teaching) [Luke 11:46]...and countered that His yoke was light and restful [Matthew 11:29]
      • Pulling the Pharisees' yoke (judgmental legalism) steals the joy out of life and weighs you down.
      • If we're not joyful in Christ, if our burdens are wearing us out, we may have become yoked to something other than Him, because He has taken a LOT of the load...
    • The Direction we are Traveling (Matthew 11:16-19)
      • "Pull" of "this generation" is always shifting: 17 ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’
      • And doesn't guarantee acceptance: 18 "For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19a The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard,... "
      • If we are just living for the latest fad or social issue or professional goal, we won't have a clear purpose or direction. Where is the meaning in life?
      • Even if you get "to the top" in this world (pay scale, power, fame), most everyone will just wait to see you fall.
      • You want meaning, take Christ's yoke and let Him lead you!
    • How to "take His yoke" upon us?
      • Attach yourself to Christ

        • Using marriage as a metaphor (following Paul's usage):

          • it shouldn't begin w/o knowing the other well, and doesn't last w/o constant effort
        • The Weight of Knowledge = learning His character, thoughts, and goals
          • Reading, listening to bible, sneak it in during the day
          • podcasts, sermons (yes, you can do a lot of this yourself)
        • Constant, Directed Effort = being aware if distance is creeping in, if you are pulling in different directions
          • That often takes OTHERS

            • Marriage example: talking with family & friends (in confidence) who are committed to helping your relationship work, who help us understand ourselves and the other person better
            • In walking with Christ, find persons who you believe have a close walk with Him (don't just ask your BFFs); they see from a different perspective
            • CHURCH: We've got to do better at providing a SAFE PLACE to do this!!!
          • Be wary of:
            • Pulls in incompatible directions

              • One (and perhaps the only) genius line of the SW prequels: "You're going somewhere I can't follow!"
              • External (lots of voices calling) and Internal (and lots of broken inclinations)
                • : we're like shopping carts with a wonky wheel...
              • A bad understanding of the goal
                • Nonreligious example: "Marriages are disposable and kids easily adapt."
                • Religious ex: "We're at church for what we get out of it."
              • Pulling for (& with) Christ
                • Marriage Metaphor concluded: Over the years if all goes right...

                  • You know each others thoughts (finish other's sentences)
                  • You exchange and merge behaviors
                  • Sometimes you even start to look more alike
                  • Others cannot think of one of you without thinking of both
                • And this is an excellent example for Christ's teaching:
                  • At the end of the day, do I want to look more like this fractured world, or more like Jesus?
                  • Don't I want to KNOW the God who made me?
                  • What is a more fulfilling path? More meaningful?  More consequential & lasting?
                  • "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11

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