06/18 - Representing the Father

June 20th, 2017

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Representing the Father

Psalm 103:8-17

 

  • Happy Father's Day!
    • Today gentlemen, we celebrate and reflect on your contributions to the family, past, present and future
      • In truth, today is a bit more "complicated" than Mother's Day
      • Best summed up by looking at dads in our most popular shows...
    • Men & fathers have taken it on the chin in popular opinion, and the rules for how to assess your worth have changed
      • used to be being a wise provider
      • now "father knows least"
    • If we view fathers as unnecessary, we pay a high price:
      • While no single child is destined for a bad outcome, kids from fatherless homes have it rough...
    • And yet God chose to reveal Himself as Father!
      • God is not male. Adam alone was not a full reflection of the divine image
      • But God is our Father, and as an earthly father your children are looking for a reflection of the Heavenly Father in you. That is a high calling!
    • We VALUE you! You are "Abba" to someone, as God is "Abba" to you.  That is the divine intention of God...
  • The Character of a Godly Father
    • Steadfast Love = love that endures all efforts to repel it
      • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a - The Love Passage
      • Luke 15:11-32 - The Father of the Prodigal Son
    • Moral Courage = determination to choose that which is necessary and right even when it is hard
      • Hebrews 12:7; Colossians 3:21 - Discipline yet do not frustrate
      • Matthew 8:5-13 - A Roman Commander Has Faith (and Humility)
    • True Heroism = placing others' needs and safety before your own
      • Hebrews 12:1-4
      • 1 Corinthians 8 (esp vs. 9,11-12)
      • Philippians 2:5-8
    • The final ingredient: Faith(fulness):
      • Philippians 2:9-11
      • Our relationship with The Father:
        • A study from Switzerland around 2000...
        • "...If a father does not go to church...only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. ... If a father goes irregularly, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will come to church regularly or occasionally. ... If a father does go regularly, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular).
        • Men, if a relationship with God is important to you, and your devotion to God is genuine, God will be important to your kids, all other things being equal.
      • Moving the ball further down the field of "getting it right"
        • I'm not perfect, but I took the best parts of my Dad's example and try to add my best along with it, with God's help.
      • tl/dr: Men, no matter how insecure as a Father you may feel, if you show faith, hope & love, if you show up, and if you do your best to move the ball a little further down the field of getting it right, you're doing well.

06/04 - Homecoming 2017 with Rev. Jerry Seely

June 4th, 2017

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We were honored today to have Jerry Seely and family among us at Concord's Homecoming!  The service, the fellowship, and the food were great!  Thank you, Reverend Seely, for ministering to us this day!

 

 

BIO FOR GERALD (JERRY) SEELY

   I was born January 26, 1951 in Tucson, Arizona. I am a triplet, two boys and one girl.  My father, Wayne Seely, was a career Air Force Man, having served during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. My early life was one of moving to different Air Force Bases. I lived in Tucson, AZ, Boise, ID, Salina, KS, Austin, TX, Grand Forks, ND and Merced, CA. After my dad retired in 1966 we moved to the Springfield, MO area. I graduated from high school in 1969. I met my spouse to be, Billie Woodruff, and we married later that year. We have been married 48 years and have four grown children, Bobby Seely, Darlene Seely, Micah Seely, and Brooke Arnold. We also have 8 grandchildren.

   In 1972 I received the call to ministry.  Following Lay Speaker Training I began the local pastor course of study. In 1973 I enrolled in Southwest Missouri State University and completed my B.A. Degree in May 1977. In August 1977 I began theological studies at Candler School of Theology and graduated with my M.Div. in June 1980. I attended the Naval War College in 1991 receiving a master’s degree in National Defense and Strategic Studies.

   My ministry in the local church began as a student pastor at Fordland UMC and Pleasant Hill UMC 1974-1977. I arrived at Concord UMC as a student pastor in June 1977 and returned to the Missouri Conference in Dec 1979. From Dec 1979 until Oct 1981 I served the Bois D’Arc and Ellwood United Methodist Churches in the Springfield District, Springfield, Missouri.

   My Navy Chaplaincy Career began in October 1981 until I retired in Oct 2011.  During those 30 years I served aboard Navy Ships, had three tours of duty with the United States Marine Corps, served with Navy Seabees, and duty overseas in Okinawa, Japan, Pohang, Korea, Brisbane, Australia, and Pattaya, Thailand. Shore assignments included duty in Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, California, Rhode Island, Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

   Billie and I have been retired since 2011 and enjoy traveling in our RV, playing golf, enjoying our grandchildren, and hanging out at the beach. God has richly blessed us along life’s journey.

05/28 - Whom Shall God Send

May 30th, 2017

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Whom Shall God Send

Acts 1:1-11

  • The Conclusion of Easter

    • This time in the Christian calendar reminds us:

      • Jesus was appearing for 40 days to His disciples
      • Ash Wednesday - 40 days of Lent - Holy Week - Easter
        - 40 Days of Easter - Ascension Sunday
    • The resurrection & ascension: two parts of the same the same event
      • ...Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. - Romans 8:34b (NLT)
      • Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. - Hebrews 12:2b (NLT)
      • This is worth our time, as God's plan is revealed...
    • Those God Chose to Send
      • The crowd = the Apostles = not the most mature of believers!

        • Peter flip-flopping & denying; Sons of Thunder; John just a kid
        • After the Mt of Transfiguration: "Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest." Luke 9:46
        • At the Last Supper, after Jesus says one will betray Him, "The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing. Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them." Luke 22:23-24
        • I'm surprised Jesus never said, "Ok, children!" Jesus had to have a LOT of patience!
      • The Divine Plan
        • v6 "So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”" (Easter was amazing!  NOW what will you do?)
        • v8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
        • What is God's Plan? Hey, Apostles, God's plan is you!
          • Were they possibly intimidated??

 

 

  • A Time of Parting

    • Jesus was ascending to Heaven, and sending them into the world...
    • Who here has sent a child out into the world? And fretted?
      • You always hope they'll be safe.
      • You hope they can handle things you won't be there to fix!
      • And you hope they won't forget everything you taught them!
    • And as children, do you remember the excitement of being on your own, and the nervousness at being on your own?
      • Going to college, getting a job
      • Going into military service...
    • Maybe you've heard or said words like these: "This is a big step! I know it's big. I know it's scary. I know.  But you know that I am here.  I've got your back.  Remember what I taught you.  Do your best.  You're stronger than you know. You've got this.  I believe in you, kiddo."  That also sounds like something God would say to us!

 

  • God's Plan Hasn't Changed!

    • For nearly 2,000 years God has worked through His people as they ACT as Christ's Body, led by the Holy Spirit

      • When we talk about "seeking God's plan," we're talking about the details! The broad brush of God's Plan is already known!
    • What is God's Plan for healing a broken world? You are!!!
      • Look around you....! Maybe take a selfie...
      • Are you possibly intimidated???
        • "How can I help heal a broken world? I'm broken too!"
        • We are broken healers offering the grace of a wounded Healer to each other. In other words, we are the Church, the Body of Christ!
      • So, what or who in your life needs healing? Maybe you've been praying for this person or this situation of a long time, hoping God will send the right person.  Maybe it's time to consider if God already has done so, in you!
        • But what can I do, Lord? I can't handle this!
        • "This is a big step! I know it's big. I know it's scary. I know. But you know that I am here.  I've got your back.  Remember what I taught you.  Do your best.  You're stronger than you know. You've got this.  I believe in you, my child."
        • Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”"

05/21 - Common Ground on Mars Hill

May 23rd, 2017

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Common Ground on Mars Hill

Acts 17:22-31

                                                    

  • Changing Times, Changing Settings
    • Ever felt like a duck-out-of-water?
      • Entertainment loves this theme
        • So many movies & TV shows
      • So many life experiences
        • New school, new job, meeting the SO's family
      • What if you found yourself at a concert with weird music?...
      • How do we handle these moments?
        • Building bridges & finding connections (looking for common ground)
      • Paul at Mars Hill
        • Paul, while highly educated and a Roman citizen by birth, was the duck-out-of-water Beverly Hillbilly in this setting and among these people
        • He preached in a way not recorded elsewhere
          • While some have said it was a "bad sermon" because he didn't confront them with the Gospel in all its fullness, it would not have been included in Scripture if is wasn't intended to teach us
          • Paul was intentionally taking a step back from the things he & the Jews took for granted, and finding common ground.
        • A Hard but Necessary Work
          • A skill we are in danger of losing
          • Modern life allows us to connect with only those people who rarely disagree with us. You can be easily "friended" and "unfriended" on Facebook. If the news report angers you, change the channel. 
          • Now people have falling-outs. Paul and Barnabas.  Desi & Lucy
            • This happens in business, in marriage, in a nation...
            • When this happens, the prescription both in psychology and scripture is the same: reconciliation... in other words, finding where you can stand with each other, building a bridge, recovering the common ground
          • For someone who is about to give a presentation to strangers (or preach a sermon), the first order of business is to find common ground!
            • Jesus did this with His parables. Preachers still do this...
          • How does Paul handle this?
            • Here is our Common Ground:
              • v22: "I see you are very religious!"
                • Remember how the KJV goes here? "Ye are too superstitious!" An insult, not a compliment. Why? 
                  • Europe's "Wars of Religion" - 16th & 17th centuries
                  • When was the KJV translated? 1611
                • Paul finds the common ground: "I will reveal to you the unknown, true God that you have built this alter for."
              • v26 "God made us all from one," so we are all brothers of the same Father.
              • v27 "He made us to seek Him," and here are examples of their own thinkers who say things like this.
            • Now will you walk with me to here?
              • v28 "But He made us; we should not try to make God in our preferred images." He does not soft-pedal their differences. 
              • v30-31 "God doesn't hold you responsible for not knowing, but now you are hearing about God's son, and God calls you to turn to His mercy before the time of judgment."
              • v31 We've got excellent reasons for our position.
            • Our world is changing. We now have to work harder to find common ground. We have to work harder to not let ourselves be pulled into an increasingly combative and reactive culture.
              • What is solid that we hold on to? For the Christian, the solid ground is the teachings and the Person of Jesus Christ.  Not necessarily styles and forms...
              • And did that music make you uncomfortable earlier? Guess what, it was written and performed by a Christian, who sings about our the common ground of human brokenness.  My favorite excerpts: "You are surrounding all my surroundings... And now I'm holding onto You!"
              • See 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Matthew 22:36-40

05/14 - What Was Promised

May 16th, 2017

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What Was Promised

Ephesians 6:1-3

                                                    

Ways It Should, and Shouldn't, Be:

Ø       Last Night with the a Family...

  • A little boy with (thankfully) a simple break (in two places!)
  • A young mother being a very good Mom (now with two in slings!)
  • Exactly how is should be!

Ø       This past week with a friend (who just turned 50)

  • ...who shared her history of abuse and a mother who even now tells her she is a horrible disappointment
  • Exactly the way is should NOT be!

Ø       Every mother a broken bearer of God's image

  • Thankfully, more of us have had the former experience...
  • Even with the occasional frustration (like maybe her being a tad overprotective), most of us have been blessed with Moms who have always, even during times of disagreements, shown us unconditional love
  • For those who haven't, it is my prayer that you find joy in those "adopted mothers" that God has placed in your life.
  • For moms here today, especially the new ones, may God bless as you perform the most challenging, rewarding task in life...

Promises, Blessings, and Rewards

Ø       "The first commandment with a promise"

  • How do we understand Bible promises?
  • "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Prov 22:6(NIV)
  • We know this does not take away their freedom to choose, but we also know that all things being equal, a good start makes a BIG difference!
  • Eph 6:3 "If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”"
  • Commandment #5: “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12 (NLT)
  • If things are the "way they should be," then if you receive what you are given, you'll have a better life.Honoring doesn't always mean agreeing!  It means being respectful and not dismissing Mom (& Dad) as "stick-in-the-muds."

            *Remember the old joke about how when you were 16 your Mom and Dad were idiots, but by 25 you were amazed at how smart they had become?

  • This is actually the basis for honoring traditions:

            *Parents hand down to you (hopefully) the best parts of their experiences and wisdom; their parents did the same for them, and so on.  With each generation knowledge is refined and updated in a gradual way, and the "baby isn't thrown out with the bath water"

            *Unless you have a "cultural revolution" like most of the major civilizations did in the previous century. Then the baby goes flying! (Ex: Scientists have recently found that baby boys and baby girls are different!)

Ø       Moms, you have reason to be confident in what you pass on!

  • Yes, the world is changing... but people haven't changed!
  • Yes, there are many new ways of doing things, but I'm glad my wife & I know some old ways (hobby farm upon retirement!!)
  • Yes, there are more options for life and faith brought to us than ever before, but that has always been the case; never doubt the value of the faith you pass on, or at the least never doubt the necessity of proving by example that a life without faith and meaning is impoverished:
  • Recently on Facebook:  ...On the one extreme you have heavy-handed indoctrination where the child never learns to think for themselves and winds up shackled to whatever authority figure they latch on to. On the other extreme is abdication, where those questions that are (generally agreed upon to be) the most important in life are treated as unimportant, and the child drifts through a superficial, un-examined life...  Hopefully my kids (yes, the "preacher's kids") know the following: questions of faith and the meaning of life are of the utmost importance for building one's life, Mom and Dad found answers to these questions and purpose in life through their (Christian) faith, they (our kids) have a responsibility to reflect on life and its meaning for themselves, and if their answers are different from ours we will not "disown" them.

And so, Mothers, Grandmothers, and those who stand in their stead...

Ø       We thank you, for your love, support, sharing, and caring...

Ø       We honor you for shaping the generations to come and passing down what you learned

Ø       We pray for you, for it is an awesome, overwhelming responsibility

Ø       We praise God for you, for in you we have received God's love

05/07 - Entering a Broken World

May 10th, 2017

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(Graduation Sunday:)

Entering a Broken World

 1 Peter 2:19-25

                                                    

Graduation in the Shadow of Easter

Ø       "This is a Day of New Beginnings"

  • with endless possibilities!

Ø       The Shadow of the Cross

  • "...Christ suffered for you."
  • Lectionary: "patiently endure unjust treatment..."
  • (a bit of a "bummer?")

This World is Broken

Ø       And as a Christian, you are called to be part of the FIX (aka. "the Kingdom of God")

  • Life ISN'T Fair (Just/Righteous)
  • Sometimes against us
  • Sometimes for us
  • You are called to BE fair, just, holy, and loving
  • To all people (those you like and don't)
  • Even to yourself (seeing yourself clearly is HARD)

Ø       You are also called to look beyond the "is" to the "what could be"

  • You are called to a life of unrelenting Hope (and Faith, and Love)

Things to Remember

Ø       Words from ministers:

  • “Education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. … We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. And so on. But when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.”~ A. C. Dixon

Ø       Some Very Practical (Proverbial) Advice

  • Surround yourself with people who make it easier for you to love God and people.Christians were never meant to be isolated. 
  • Don't just live in the Christian bubble; Jesus ate with everybody.
  • Dreaming big dreams is one thing, but waking up, getting out of bed, & doing the hard work is what makes your dreams reality.
  • Think before you speak…or post something, or send an email, or text(you get the idea).
  • Make good choices!You’re going to have to look at yourself in the mirror every day…
  • Never stop pursuing the truth.But don't confuse truth with opinion.  "I have my truth and you have yours" is an example of said confusion.
  • Truth includes facts, but facts can only imply truth.Don't implications overwhelm your faith.
  • You can't be a real disciple of Jesus just one day a week; it takes all seven!
  • Jesus is not your "ticket" to heaven, or to the good life, or to any of your goals.Trying to use God for your own ends, never ends well.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take God very seriously.
  • Don’t settle for ordinary, when extraordinary is just a few steps away.
  • Love people…all people.Even if they really need a bath.
  • Never underestimate the power of a firm handshake and good eye contact.
  • It’s never too late to stop procrastinating.
  • Humility includes knowing your strengths (without arrogance) and knowing your weaknesses (without despair).
  • Facebook is not the place to handle interpersonal conflicts or meet eligible singles in your area.Neither is Tinder!!
  • Some hills aren’t worth dying on…but, then again, some are.
  • Don’t fill out those credit card applications that you receive in the mail.Just because congress cannot live within their means doesn't make it wise.
  • Children who truly love their parents, call them at least once a week and text them more often…just not while they’re driving.
  • 1st impressions really do matter! (I'll spare you the quote...)
  • Live out Ephesians 2:10–“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
  • Never forget who you are.Never forget whose you are.
  • Be flexible enough to change your course when warranted, but determined enough to stay the course when needed.The Serenity prayer is worth praying often.
  • Spend enough time dwelling on the good memories that they stick (bad memories tend to stick without effort). Spend enough time making good memories so that you have many to dwell on. 

04/30_Signposts Along the Way

May 3rd, 2017

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Signposts Along the Way

Luke 24:13-34

                                                    

Going "old school" today, but first...

Ø       Road signs...

  • A lot of funny ones in the world... and on Google
  • But some are easily missed...

Ø       The disciples on the road missed a few things...

  • Jesus walking with them; the necessity of the crucifixion
  • Are we any differe-nt?

Ø       “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures."  - Jesus of Nazareth, 30AD

  • We're not the 1st generation to struggle with what was written!
  • We have come up with new and ingenious reasons to ignore it.

Ignoring the Signs

Ø       The Inevitable March of Progress?

  • More of the world explained (and explained away)
  • Science has provided us a MUCH better quality of life
  • The promise of a new secular age...
  • ...which had theologians trying to "insulate" the gospel:

¨       "Not 'fact' but still 'true'"

¨       The "Social Gospel" as a "gospel" for this world only

  • ...which in fact has NOT happened:

¨       more people un-churched, but not all that more atheists

¨       most are "spiritual," or superstitious

¨       In March 2016, a temple dedicated to the Norse god Odin & other gods opened in Denmark. Nine Roosters were sacrificed and consumed as a part of the ritual.

¨       After a popular campaign, European Union officials agreed to add the leprechauns as a protected species in the area of the Carlingford mountains.  (263 left)

  • "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing— they believe in anything." ~ G. K. Chesterton
  • Two world wars, multiple genocides, the threat of nuclear war...
  • Scientific progress has shown us how to do many things; it has nothing to say about whether doing them is good...

Ø       But WE certainly aren't like that, right?

  • A little fill-in-the-blank...
  • For God so loved the world that _________________
  • In the beginning was the _____________________
  • And you will see the Son of Man coming __________
  • If your eye offends you ____________
  • The just shall live _____________
  • Yea though I walk through _______________
  • For everything there is a season, and _______________
  • Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ________  _______  ____
  • ..choose you this day whom you will serve... but as for me and my house, _______________________
  • And some other things...
  • First 5 books?The 4 gospel writers?
  • Who wrote most of the NT letters?
  • What makes James and Jude so special of the NT writers?
  • Where to look for a coat of many colors?
  • Who was safe in the lions' den? In the fiery furnace? Did they know each other?

Ø       First order VBS stuff?

  • Any teacher should tell you, to perform higher level thinking, you have to have some content.
  • How much time have you spent with God's word not just over the past week, but over your life?
  • If you were taken to North Korea, could you tell your kids and grandkids the stories of Jesus?

Following the Directions

Ø       And in the meantime...

  • Jesus invites us to walk with Him and talk with Him, in a concrete way that will challenge our presuppositions, and change our thoughts and desires...
  • Every story was given for a reason
  • Yes, they are "stories."Yes, they really, factually, happened.  But these were recorded intentionally by the authors, and the Author guiding them.

Ø       What is the point of this story?

  • Jesus is with us! Even when the times are tough.
  • Jesus will teach us through our engagement with God's word! That learning experience will challenge us, but also comfort us.
  • We will experience His presence as we fellowship with one another, especially in the "breaking of bread" (communion).
  • And that is how we receive strength for the journey!

Ø       Finally, lets end with some "signs"

  • Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 11:28-29; Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Romans 8:37-39; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Revelation 3:5

04/23 - Receiving and Believing

April 24th, 2017

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Demonstration of the signs mentioned in the sermon here.

The video played during the sermon here.

 

Receiving and Believing

John 20:19-31

                                                    

Narrowing Our Focus

Ø       So Rich in Possibilities!

  • Remember your first time at a buffet? (For me it was Duffy's.What to eat first!?!)
  • There is a wealth of possible topics in today's post-Easter lectionary reading:
  • The disciples were hiding and fearful; quite the opposite of Pentecost!
  • Jesus appears! Is He a spirit?No, He shows them His wounds...
  • Why does Jesus retain His wounds?
  • Isn't it neat that He says "Peace be with you," which was their everyday polite greeting, like "how's your mom & them, but His mission was to bring Peace?
  • That part about forgiving and retaining sins: is that license for the Roman Catholic practices of penance and excommunication, or is that about our ministry of declaring forgiveness through faith in Christ (as the Greek suggests)?
  • Was Thomas stubborn, hurt, the first scientist, or what?
  • Thomas' confession was light years beyond Peter's finally unmasking for us Jesus as God.

Ø       Let's narrow it down to these:

  • v22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit."
  • v29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
  • AND v31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
  • What is this link between believing in Jesus and receiving new life through the Spirit?

Do We "Believe?"

Ø       I have a problem with Indiana Jones...

  • #1 - After you see the Ark of the Covenant destroy a group of Nazi's, how do you still interpret it without bringing in God?
  • #2 - That scene in The Last Crusade about the "leap of faith..."

Ø       The problem with the Leap of Faith

  • We tend to define what is "leaped over" as a lack of evidence
  • Look at what Thomas says...
  • But in my experience, what we "leap over" is more about the struggle in our hearts (insecurities, fear of being hurt, etc.) than the struggle in our heads
  • Imagine yourself as Thomas, and look at what he did...

Ø       The problem with "belief"

  • Like "love," we can say a lot or a little when we say, "I believe"
  • ex 1: "I believe it's going to rain."
  • ex 2: "I believe this airplane is safe."
  • ex 3: "I believe in my wife."
  • As in, "No, that wasn't my wife tossing dollar bills at the Chip & Dale performers!"
  • Or better yet, "Honey, I need you to leave the house for the next 30 minutes.No questions. Trust me.  This is important." (I will, of course, ask if she's in any danger...)
  • "Belief in Christ" is that kind of belief that starts with a realization and moves quickly to trust, then over time permeates the center of your being and fills every corner of your life...
  • Thomas: "My Lord and my God!"

Part of the New Creation

Ø       John's hidden implication:

  • Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
  • John 1:1a In the beginning was the Word... v3 God created everything through him, & nothing was created except through him.
  • Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
  • John 20:22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit."

Ø       As a disciple, you are called not just to a set of rules or a certain standard of behavior, but to willingly participate in your own re-creation...

Ø       The impact that people of the New Creation have is amazing...

  • "Christians are made of Steel!" - a clip from an Egyptian news broadcast in which a Muslim journalist reacts to an interview with the widow of the gatekeeper who prevented a suicide bomber from entering an Alexandria church yard on Palm Sunday, thereby saving countless lives....

That is the kind of impact we are called to have as a part of the New Creation, a post-Easter people!

04/16 - He Is Risen!!

April 19th, 2017

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He Is Risen!!
 Matthew 28:1-10

Are You Ready for Easter? 

>  If you could pick your own, "Best News EVER," what would it be?

  • No war? No famine?  Sicknesses cured?  Death vanquished!?!
  • How about the promise of all of the above?

>  That is what the we mean when we say  Jesus the Christ is ALIVE!

  • He is RISEN! And we MUST share this, that it happened, and what it means! 

Christ Risen in History, in Defiance of Meaninglessness and Death

>  Yes, even people back then knew that the dead stayed that way!

  • Gentiles believed in nothingness, or that the body was crude and corrupt...
  • Jews were divided, only imagining a resuscitation (like Lazarus)
  • Even some (sophisticated?) Christians...
  • 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 NLT
  • For "moderns," we have tried to limit faith to teaching "truth," rather than "facts."That doesn't work on Easter!

>  Paul had it right: if Jesus was not alive on that first Sunday after Passover, then the whole thing is a cheat.  Everything is pointless...

  • BetrandRussel represents this view:“...only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

>  Paul: 

  • Cor15:20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
  • An open challenge to the readers of the letter: go ask the eyewitnesses, or ask the Romans to produce the body (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

>  God doesn't ask us to surrender our reason, but to honestly use it!

>  This is the pivot point of human history, on which all of it turns!

  • A world without Christ is a world that retains the practice of slavery, rejects the equality and complimentarity of women and men, retains the horrors of infanticide and the dehumanization of the "other"
  • A world without Christ is a world characterized by the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, the gas chambers of Nazi Germany, and the ruler worship and idolatry of modern North Korea (we see their true darkness by the Light of the Son)
  • A world without Christ is a world without challenge to the Rabbinic prayer, "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a Gentile;... not made me a slave; ... not made me a woman."

 

Christ Risen in the Heart of Believers, in the Midst of the Kingdom Work

>  This pivot point of human history is the pivot point of our lives!

  • We are called into the world love our neighbors as ourselves, to visit the sick and imprisoned, to act out of compassion and agape (selfless) love.
  • We live in a world that still struggles against the darkness, yet where the light of Christ still shines in the hears and through the actions of His disciples
  • And we are told, in God's word, that in Christ... Galatians 3:28-29 NLT There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

>  The Choice we make as a body, and as individual disciples: 

  • Will we allow Christ to dwell at the center of our lives, will we enthrone Him as the king of our decisions?Will we allow Him to shape and fortify our closest relationships, to make them truly loving and life-giving?
  • Will we accept that our actions have eternal meaning and allow Him to work the painful yet joyful process of transformation, making us into what God made us to be?
  • Will we choose to be not just on the "right side of history," but on the "right side of His-Story?"
  • Will our hearts ring out with joy at the coming of the King in power and glory?

>  The Promise:

  • A southern illustration:Do you like blackberry pies?  How do you know a good pie is not far off?  When you walk down the driveway and find that first ripe berry...
  • Easter is not just the celebration of what has happened, but what is on the horizon. Jesus is the "first fruit," proving the harvest to come.
  • The Promise is one of New Life, and Light banishing darkness, of the fulfillment of our deepest and most sacred desires for reunion and redemption and resurrection!

 

04/09 - The King is Coming

April 14th, 2017

00:0000:00

*TECHNICAL ISSUES: THE LAST FEW MINUTES OF THE SERMON WERE CUT OFF*

 

The King Is Coming
Matthew 21:1-11

A Moment of Triumph and Joy
> Don't you want to live in the land of Happily Ever After?...
* The moment they (Jesus' followers) had all been waiting for!
* A part of me wishes we could stay in the victory, in the "positivity," in the "feels" of this moment!
> ...Instead of in the land of Everything Falls Apart?
* Yet Jesus had told His followers how this week would end
* Did you watch the Oscars?
· My son, who LOVES "La La Land," was crushed!
· You have won best picture!!!! (cheers, joy,...) Oh, wait....
* Have you ever struggled under the weight of what might have been?
> But aren't the best stories about how after everything fell apart, there was a not-dared-hoped-for victory?
* This is the Greatest Story Ever Told, not the simplest, nor the easiest...
· Here the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world are clashing

Kingdoms Conflicting
> At the Western Gate: Pilate
* Welcomed by the people of power and authority
· who didn't like him at all, but were playing politics
· who would later demand that he crucify Jesus
* Projecting strength through military power (stallions and soldiers)
> At the Eastern Gate: Jesus
* Welcomed by the powerless, the voiceless
· who loved Him and wanted God's Kingdom in charge
· who were crying out so loudly that the powerful wanted them silenced
* Projecting strength through peace (a donkey and palm branches)
> Whose vision would triumph?

Sidebar: cycles of revolution
> Feelings of powerlessness lead to anger
* one of the worst feelings is lack of control, lack of voice
> The powerless throw off the oppressor
* "...Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government..."
> Often the once-oppressed become the new oppressors
* The Who, Won't Get Fooled Again, "Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss"
* The Culture War can be seen through this lens (each side views itself as oppressed and the other as oppressor)

A Week that Changed the World
> Happily Ever After yields inevitably to Everything Falls Apart
* Yet what if Someone broke this cycle by embracing suffering and defeat as the path to true, miraculous victory?
> Jesus would later tell Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world."
* Not just "not a physical kingdom," but "not following the pattern of worldly power and authority."
> If we follow Him, we'll not seek victory through personal power
* That's hard for me, because I've got my rights!
· And I hate being "powerless."
· (I'm used to feeling short, but I hate feeling small.)
* But He calls us to end the quest for personal power through surrender to the Father and obedience to His will.
· Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...
· Do you have a "situation" (at work, at school, within your family) where you feel powerless, angry, threatened, like striking back? Is Christ possibly calling you to handle it a different way, following the pattern of His Kingdom?
· Trust in the One who brings Resurrection when your "happily ever after" becomes "everything falls apart"

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