Archive for August, 2011

Romans 12.9-21 “True Lovers” JUMC 20110828

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  -nrsv

When you play the card game Hearts, after the 2 of clubs is played, you lead with hands that you think will win all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades or None of them. If you are able to take them all or avoid them all, you “Shoot the Moon”.

Paul, if he had played cards, which we have no idea what games they played, could have summed up this whole teaching by saying, When it comes to loving, “Shoot the moon!”  Avoid all the evil, take all the opportunities to do Good, and you will know what love is.

Wendy and I had the opportunity to go to Paris for the Millennium celebration. I told her I had a watch night service at the church. She said this is the Millennium. John paused, and in that pause all most forfeited his ticket and invitation. One notable thing is Paris was it appeared that it was appropriate to kiss where-ever and when-ever you like. The witness of lovers.

Tina Turner would ask: What’s love got to do, got to do with it, What’s love but a sweet old fashioned notion, What’s love got to do, got to do with it, Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

Ke$ha and Katy Perry: Walk by and I’m a nervous wreck,  The way you smell, the way you dress, so perfect My tongue is tied,  cause I can’t translate these feelings inside, I I oh, I can’t speak I am terrified, Cause if I say the wrong thing,  You might see how hard I’m trying, Is this made up or true love..

Romantic Love is an wonderful and awesome thing, but there is a greater love.

Couples who come to get married, most all of the time have a great infatuation for one another. Usually their love has not been tested, stretched and threatened.

Paul points us to LOVE that has been through the ringer, mature and whole. In this text is a lesson to teach us that we are all LOVERS.

AND.. that we are called to witness to the world, as such.

When we say in our MEMBERSHIP vows that we will give our witness, most folks assume that means we are to prepare our spiritual testimony and hit the street corners trying to convert the world.  Paul offers a more practical approach

9 Let love be genuine;

  1. hate what is evil, …       hate goes with evil. Do all in your power to NOT love what is NO good.
  2. hold fast to what is good;                                          Put your Trust in Goodness.
  3. Love one another with mutual affection;              Mutual Affection, calls for communication & relationship
  4. outdo one another in showing honor.                   Ere on the side of doing what is honorable.
  5. Do not lag in zeal,                                                       See the Good in others, Starting NOW
  6. be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.                          Look for God’s presence and witness
  7. Rejoice in hope,                                                           Don’t Give Up
  8. be patient in suffering,                                               Don’t Give Up, even when that’s hard
  9. persevere in prayer.                                                     Actually Pray about it, not just say we will.
  10. Contribute to the needs of the saints;                     Help some one, some how, be involved.
  11. extend hospitality to strangers.                               Remember you have been stranger, make a friend
  12. Bless those who persecute you;                                Pray for Good to come to those who don’t deserve it.
  13. bless and do not curse them.                                    Refrain from speaking ill of others.. don’t complain
  14. Rejoice with those who rejoice,                               Celebrate the good in all things, and times.
  15. weep with those who weep.                                      Be compassionate with all who hurt.
  16. Live in harmony with one another;                        Harmony honors our differences, but doesnt insist on melody
  17. do not be haughty,                                                       Don’t let pride eat you up.
  18. associate with the lowly;                                           Be intentional about friend-ing the friendless.
  19. do not claim to be wiser than you are.                   When you think you know it all, think again
  20. Do not repay anyone evil for evil,                             Don’t model evil’s behavior.
  21. take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.               We a wintess of what is Good. Take the high road.
  22. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.        You start the peace making first.
  23. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;    God is judge, not you.
  24. “if your enemies are hungry, feed them;                Feed the hungry, even if you don’t like it.
  25. if they are thirsty, give them something to drink;   Quench the thirsty, even if you don’t trust them.
  26. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.    Lead with Goodness.
True Love is Genuine Love.. Go be Genuine, in the world, in your work and play, in your relationships and witness, even toward your enemy.

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Matthew 14:22-33 “Back in the Same Boat” JUMC 08072011 Outline

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” -NRSVDisciples Have Everything Working Against Their Success:

  • Evening, Sun Downers, confusion
  • Alone, Children alone, Seniors alone, homeless alone, single parents,
  • Battered, number of spouses battered, battery statistics in general
  • Far away, Soldiers, students, travelers,
  • Against the wind…, when invisible forces keep you from holding ground, where you can’t even stand still in trouble..
  • Terrified, afraid, and frightened, Primal reactions to danger, fear, loss, grief and emptiness
  • Sinking, .. a drowning, falling, loss of control and ultimately a loss of life.

Lord Save me!

  • Obvious petition, request, and plea, why not ask sooner, (CERF),
  • I’m tired of saving myself… tired of making deals.. getting buy, tired of self fooling / self lying


  • Immediately, Jesus meets us.
  • Here we at his Table, he has stepped next to us, and prepared for us a place of peace, rescue, relief and rest.
  • (Come to me all who labor and are heavy ladin and he will give you rest.)

Our Response is praise and worship.

  • Come, out of your boat and walk in faith to reach Christ’s hand, and become his body and presence.

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Matthew 16.13-20 Jesus at the Headwaters JUMC 20110821

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.  NRSV

The Jordon River begins as spring, fed by the snow capped mountains, (Mt Nebo)
which runs deep into the grown through rocks to form the headwaters.
The birthplace of the river.

I was born at the Candler county hospital in Metter, GA. People as, where were your born. In Metter, I answer. They may have heard of the Guido Gardens or know it is the bathroom break you take on I-16 between Macon and Savannah. But for me, it is my birth place. If inquirers are familiar with Metter, they begin to ask me if I know this family or that family. I have regret as I only lived there six months. I beyond the primal trama of birth itself, it holds no childhood memories for me. But it is my starting point.

If you live at your starting point, one must ask, what have I done with the time I have been right here? How many of us were born here in Butts county? How many have never moved away? You can’t choose where you were born, but we all grow out of the places where we have started.. The question is where are you now? and the follow up is, Where are you going?

I had a family that had a mountain house on the Taccoa River, the little fishing lodge held many family memories for generations. When the grand father of the family died, the family wanted to have his memorial service at the cabin and desired to have his ashes placed into the river. At the end of the time of remembering the family members who wanted to cast the remains into the water found the little pool of water near the cabin that was so good for trout, did not facilitate ashes floating down stream as they had hoped. His ashes remained very close to the bank. The Point: We are not suppose to linger in the same place.

Jesus’ point: Where have we started our faith journey and where did our faith find its beginning?
I recall on a long summer camping vacation wedding trip. We traveling just south of Fargo, to Wahpeton North Dakota by way of Minnesota, we followed the Mississippi river north and then went west. At the starting point of the river there was a place where you could step on a few stones and walk across the Mighty Mississippi. Of Course at its beginning it is small. In its maturity it is enormous.

Jesus takes the disciples to the head waters of the Jordon, near the base of the snow capped Mt Nebo, to a place that seven deities were worshipped. Here Jesus ask them the most important question.

The very first assignment I was given in Seminary was to write my Credo, “This I Believe”. With each semester I had the opportunity to rewrite, adding and taking away, but always going back to the first draft to compare where I had grown and to what I continued to hold fast through out great challenge.

In the middle of Jesus work with the disciples he takes them to the foundation, the birthplace of the Jordon River, the source of their water, food, livelihood, culture, and life.. and here in the presence of other cultures ask for their affirmation, confession, and profession of faith.

Point: What is the foundation of your trust and faith?  “Who do you say that I am?” he asked.

Confirmation is a time of claiming the birth of our faith. For some it is the birthplace, for most Methodist, it is looking back to the faith that brings us to this point and looking down the stream as for as we can see and confirm where we stand and why we are on this faith journey, together.

The end of the teaching moment, Jesus gives disciples a command that is not ours. He wanted to know where they were, but his timing was different. We live in a time that hungers to hear Where God is alive? What is our meaning and purpose?

These who come to stand at the edge of the water and say, You are the Christ, I will follow you. Are those who are now called to go tell. But it is not just them, they now remind all us, God’s timing is to tell the whole world.

Affirm our faith, Once Again… I believe

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Matthew 15:10-20 Pit Falls of Speaking JUMC 08142011

10 Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”  -NRSV

Just Keep ‘IT’ to Your Self

  • For some the default is to take this parable’s teaching to the extreme.
  • These folks will keep their mouths and hearts closed so tightly that prefer to err on the side of not speaking, rather than say the wrong thing.
  • But what does it feel like to keep something inside, something that should not eat at your own heart for keeping quiet.

Yes, there is a place for confidence, trust and secrets.. these are not what the parable is addressing.

  • Jesus is teaching about what needs to be shared or told.

Think about the things that have come out of your mouth in the last 24 hours: There are a sets of tools that help us learn to communicate well.

  • Some tools prevent good. For example when we focus on blame, sarcasm, and assumptions that close hearts, minds and doors.
  • Some tools are information only. Details, information, facts and figures, which in theme selves are not communication, but can either help or hinder what we say.
  • Finally there are tools and methods that promote good conversation. When we hear from the other person’s perspective, when we let others know we hear them independent of judging them. When we work toward agreement that is not coerced.
  • The catch is that we generally carry more tools from the first bag of resources and give up before we reach the third one.
Sometimes there is more to be said, but is it the truth?

If you have visited a National Park website lately, you will find new educational resources that give a more afro-centric account about the significance of historical markers and events at the park. Now, this is a tricky business. Because the task is not to re-write history, rather to add more voices to complete the pictures we have of our common history.Jesus is primarily talking, not about politics, rather our faith message to the world:

  • We have almost no religious restrictions on our diets. The only one has been a request of Methodist to choose to abstain from drinking alcohol. “I thought we were the all things in moderation church?, aren’t we?” Technically we are not. Our history recognized when society abuses a substance to the degree it affects not only the individual person but the whole society, it would be best to make personal choices to avoid it’s use.
  • If we take the same model, and think of how sugar, salt, processed and modified food, on the same grounds we should also abstain from these items. So when out Baptist friends try to tell us that the wine that Jesus consumed was somehow watered down, remind them that Jesus himself turned water into wine, that was the very best the professional sommelier, wine steward, had ever tasted.
  • If it is for judgement and condemnation that we demean and divide people because of any substance, then we have allow a ‘thing’ to become more important that the person. That is Idolatry.(a whole other sermon)

So if our lesson is..

  • not to simply keep quiet,
  • not to say whatever comes to our mind
  • not to twist the words of others
  • not to use words to judge or condemn

What IS it we are suppose to get?
This is why Peter speaks up to ask for clarification.. give us the Cliff NotesTM Jesus.

Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.

  • First, physical things go the way of what is physical.
  • Our Words come from the heart… that is what matters.
  • Sometimes our words are untrue or insincere and they are only good for the sewer..

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The disciples and the people would have known this verse by heart.

Jesus gives a list of the terrible things that can come from our heart, even if we don’t speak the words aloud:
evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying, slander
vs what our heart could say:
goodness, healing, respect, love, sharing, truth, and support.

Here is ‘THE’ Question:

What is the world hearing from your heart?

  • Is your heart silent?
    • Open Up! Speak Out Clear!
  • Is your heart screaming Anger, Fear, Judgement, Control
    • Stop talking, hear what those around you are saying.
  • Is your heart speaking God’s voice!
    • Praise the Lord!

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