Archive for September, 2011

Philippians 2:1-13 What’s Your On Your Mind? JUMC 8/28/2011

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross. There-fore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  ~NRSV

Paul encourages us to workout our own salvation.
Does that mean we can do whatever we want? Yes.
But ask does our “daily life plan” reflect God or ourselves.

This is something we, each, have to work out, find out, and live into individually.
Paul could not do it for us, God couldn’t do it for Jesus..

Work out your own salvation..
So if it is not actually ‘anything goes,’ how do we do it?

First, Paul starts with our mind, our attitude, our perspective.
When the coach isn’t calling the right plays or the favorite
players are not stepping up, fans shout:
“Get your head in the game..”
“Think about what your doing, focus.”

To help focus, Paul draws on words from an early church hymn..
He takes the familiar words and weaves them into an explanation and example..
What words come to mind with this tune?
Whistling the tune to Ray Charles’s “Georgia, on my mind..”

Jesus, Jesus, The whole day through, Just an old sweet song keeps Jesus on my mind, I’m say Jesus, Jesus, A song of you comes as sweet and clear, as moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me, Other eyes smile tenderly, Still in peaceful dreams I see, The road leads back to you. I said Jesus, Ooh Jesus, no peace I find, Just an old sweet song, keeps Jesus on my mind…

Have the mind of Christ, think like Jesus..
What would Jesus think, and say, AND do?
The test questions ask:
Q: Do I thinking of myself first? Look out for me/my family first. Right?
Q: Am I strong and humble? Or one only one OR the other.

Working out our salvation is answering one question:
Have you emptied yourself to be filled up with Jesus?
Honestly, Frankly, not so much..
We want to give Jesus some room when we need him.
We might give him one day or one hour a week.
What fills up your days and nights…
empty for the sake of your salvation.

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“Forgiveness: The Math Problem” Matthew 18:21-35 JUMC 20110918.0900

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church* sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times. 23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents* was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;* and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.  ~NRSV

<00>Frances is learning about multiplication in her class. A couple of years ago it was unbelievable to her that she would understand her “times tables.” Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus await. <01>And so does our understanding and experience with Forgiveness await us.

Video Clip: Forgiveness: from The Family the Preys

We want to believe in Forgiveness, but we don’t know how. That is what Jesus parable is about.. It is an ANTITHESIS of forgiveness. (an example of how NOT to handle forgiving)

On my continuing education trip this week we visited the Carlos Museum on the Emory campus, on one of the several Egyptian sarcophaguses there was hieroglyph of Ma’at <03> the goddess of truth and the god Anubis, judging the deceased’s has being “light as a feather or heavier than a feather” <04>, ..Alluding to how God examined Pharoh’s heart by his own Egyptian standards and found his heart too hard and too heavy.

Jesus’ parable is of a hard and heavy hearted example. Forgiveness is God’s work in us, not our management. Let go,

To forgive is to forget. Learn but let go!

Grace does not keep count, 7x70m. Let go.

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John 3:13-17 Remembering Our Response JUMC 20110911

13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  NRSV

Like it or not, the horrible tragedy of September 11, 2001 has been replayed in tribute and honor of those who heroically helped lead persons to safety, recuse those who were trapped and search for those who had died in the multiple attacks just ten years ago.

I have heard one person say, I just can’t look at those airplanes impacting the building another time.  Others have looked on and now are able to see the good that came out of such an awful event.

I ask you to go back to this very day, ten years ago. Much like those who lived during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the shooting of Kennedy or MLK Jr. you have etched into your memory what or where you first heard of that news.

I had received an epidural for back pain the day before and awoke with even greater pain in reaction to the medicine. Wendy and I went early to the doctor’s office where I laid on a large ice pack, on a traction table, in a darkened room. Everyone else left the room. With in a few moments it seemed as if every single phone, cell phone and pager sounded off simultaneously and then they all went silent, a silence followed. Some time passed, much longer that I was suppose to be in traction (for everyone in the office was glued to the tv and computer screens.) I called out from my dark but safe place of rest only to find that some plane had crashed into the trade towers. By the time made it out to the nurses station to schedule a follow up appointment, the second plane hit the other tower. This was not simple a wayward accident, it was an intentional and premeditated attack.

Our land of the free and the brave were put on a notice that remains today. The notable response was that people began called the church office and wanted to know if the sanctuary was opened for prayer. With in a few hours we had dropped the plans of the day and members and strangers gathered to prayer, reflect and share stories of friends, family members and stories that had begun to hear. Some had not yet heard from survivors. All gathered, hundreds of miles away to find in the church a place of hope, security, and grounding.

New York towers were quickly given the name “Ground Zero” but I suggest that it was a spiritual shot in all of our hearts, maker ground zero within each of us.

Yes, for us, we did not have the smoke in our lungs nor the dust of the debree on our person, but we had been transported through countless reports and visual live account… played over and over until we had to become numb.

But step back into those first moments and hours and days. People looked past our differences to see the present hurt, the hopelessness, the grief, the overwhelming nature of a new reality, thrust upon us.

One of the first bible passages people begin to learn. Even at football games, graffiti artist and placards at the gas station gift shop.. John 3:16. For God so loved the world…

How is it that we can live in a world filled with poverty, war, terror, chaos if God loves us so very much?

The question that our text asks of us today is what is our response to death, destruction, dis-orientation, and division in the world and in our communities today?

Where is God today and how has the church done in the past ten years in reaching out to a hurting, chaotic, and divided world and community?

I would make the case that our community, here in Jackson and from a global perspective are looking to the church for comfort, healing, hope, direction, power in a world that continues to crazed and up-side-down.

What child would you not want him or her to know the love of Jesus in their own heart, life and home? Then why don’t we have more helpers in our children’s program.

Let’s Wrap is receiving a $5k grant from EMC to buy coats so that no child is without a coat in Butts county.  Now we that we have warmed their bodies, will we take the next step to warm their hearts with Jesus?

If you travel at all you know that in the name of safety, there are TSA agents who are more intimate with strangers that we are with neighbors in church and our own community. We are scared to touch someone.

It is the government’s job to protect our safety, our economy and our general welfare, but it is not their job to make sure every citizen knows the love of Jesus Christ. Who’s job is that one?

When we had the great opportunity of the tragic attacks people flocked to the church.

In the past ten years what is our witness of love?

How have we shown the hope that comes through Christ?

How, there are individual who have remained vigilant.

There are instances where folks have reached out through acts of service, missions, clothing, feeding, transporting, and befriending..

The question is: do we know, for sure, if these have known it is because of God’s love, Jesus’ grace, the spirits guiding that we love as we have?

The 10th anniversary of these acts of terror stand for as a marker in the sand: how have we shown a hurting world God’s love, God’s hope, God’s grace and peace?

IF you can’t name them personally, you personally have work to do.

On some Sunday, I have asked you why are you still sitting here, I have not been specific. I have assumed you understood my question: What I mean to say is, while there are so many folks, all around us, hurting, confused, afraid, lonely, grieving, starving and separated… why are you still in this place when the people out there need us to be with them?  Go.

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ezekiel 33.1-11 Watch, Trust, Follow in Faith JUMC 20110904

Ezekiel Israel’s Sentinel

The word of the Lord came to me: 2O Mortal, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; 3and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; 4then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. 5They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. 6But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.

7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life. 10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? ezekiel 33.1-6,7-11 NRSV

Before the water released out of the dam each evening into the Taccoa, a horn would sound, and the height would rise 2-4 feet and the speed of the water flow would more than 2x-4x. Saving fishermen, tubers and kayakers.

Some criticized the weather focusers for over reacting to such wide spread evacuation of New York. But it was up to the residents, to listen to the warning and live with the consequences of their action or NON-actions.

Ezekiel is the sentinel, prophet. The messenger of God’s message.

Q: Have you heard people, movies, television shows, internet theories speak about the signs of the end times. What do you say? One count down clock. 472-3 days until the end…

We have to balance that with “no one knows the day or hour” with Jesus condemnation that “you watch the sky and know what the weather is going to be”…

The lesson is to look for the signs, and act accordingly.

In driving, no one knows exactly when you might run off the road, but your watch the signs that say, steep grade, sharp curve, or fall rock, because the likelihood is greater at certain times and places.


The emphasis on our text is the role of the prophet and our participation in the warnings.

1) sometimes you are the prophet for someone else…

2) honestly we are not usually the prophet, we are in the role of hearing the warning of others.

3) decreeing GOD-ly prophet, is the one sharing God’s message.

not always easy to hear… the task then is to pray for the sentinel to be clear…

not get rid of the bad guy/gal or make him/her stop… it is speak so I can hear and know your heart.

4) Once you have heard God’s contemporary message, follow, do it, trust it, step out in faith.

Do you get the weather report for the year and never listen again?

Do you read your bank statement/investments once a year and write all the checks you like without following up?

Do you look for traffic only in one direction and drive on without concern for the other?

Look for the signs, Be Alert. Follow their warning, and you will be saved unnecessary trouble, even your life.

I’m looking for signs.. because the time is not known.

I’m following the warning… because its time for caution and concern.

I’m going to keep living in faith, that God is at work in the world, universe, and our hearts now as always.

That will never change, even if all else is up-side-down.

That’s what it means to meet him at his table and trust his grace… Here are two signs. Bread / Cup.

When are you going to need God’s grace, don’t exactly know the hour and day, but I know will need them.

Come on to dinner, now. (That is the prophet, sentinel’s message.)

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