Archive for January, 2012

1 Corinthians 8…

1 Corinthians 8:1-13  JUMC “Why UMC Love Covered Dish Dinners” 20120129

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.  NRSV

REASON: One of the central things that I love about the United Methodist Understanding and practice of loving Jesus is that we use our brains.

John Wesley spoke of reason. God has given us wonderful, creative, questioning, exploring minds… they catch is with such a great set of tools, computers and libraries contained in our heads, it could be easy to assume we are creator, master and solely responsible for things God simply opens up to us to discover.

We think there fore we are…      vs.         We think there God is.

René Descartes                                             Apostle Paul in letter to the Corinthians

He is a question for your brain to chew on today:

Can Food be used to keep people closer to God or keep people separated from God?

On one hand we would say yes, food can keep people together. That is why Wednesday night dinners and Holy Feasts have been at the heart of Christian fellowship through out our church. Looking back to scripture we recall it is through a child’s lunch of five roles and two fish sticks that Jesus works to feed thousands and thousands of hungry followers.

On the other hand it separates people. Recall in the Great Commissioning there are is a time of accountability, “When did you see you hungry and feed you?, When you fed the least important ones, you fed me.” For generations that Hebrews had food laws that helped keep them healthy and helped define them.

The example in this text focuses on FOOD.

In particular is the rule about eating food offered to other Gods.

Its not such an issue in our time, as we eat foods of different cultures and culinary pallets through out our regular diets.

The issue is not so much the food, but RULE part. I’m I being unfaithful to God if I eat something offered to another God)

(Other Religion dinner episode near Emory)

Paul’s answer is: There are no other God’s. Someone else may spoil fool but they can’t make food un-Godly.

How the food we eat define us?

We can look and see that we enjoy sugars, fatty foods, and value convenience over quality.

But this text is about a physical needs limiting a spiritual hunger.

One Thanksgiving season, the church I pastored started gathering food to share with folks who we wanted to help feed at this important family time of the year.

  • We learned that most of the people who need the turkey’s we bought didn’t have a pan big enough to cook the bird, if they had a working oven to heat the thing.
  • We learned that not everyone who signed up with the Department of Family and Children’s services had an empty refrigerator on Thanksgiving, some knew how to work the system.
  • We learned that some parents would let their children be hungry rather than ask for help, admit they had a family problem, or would not share with their children.

We also learned, some folks were content to help with one meal on one day and that absolved their conscience for the year.

We also learned, that because sometimes the church was taken advantage of by a few folks, we didn’t need to waste our resources helping anyone.

We also learned, it might be uncomfortable seeing how some neighbors live so close to our own home, school, parks and shops.

  • But through it all, we learned, that our food, filled hungry bodies.
  • Through it all, we saw Jesus’ love come into homes that were filled with fear, depression, sadness, and brokenness.
  • Through it all, we experienced Jesus alive, through us bringing hope, belonging, and love, using food.

Why worry about food?

Paul writes about food because we deal with it daily.

The REAL question is:

If there are those who are looking and you and me as examples and witness of Jesus in the world..

Does it matter what we eat, drink, wear?  We can do as we please, right?

Does it matter how we speak to and treat other people? We have our right to our opinion, right?

Does it matter if we lead with sweetness, forgiveness and grace,

Or do we have to be right, correct, and justified..

Paul’s Point: Don’t fooled for all our knowing.. folks look to each of us to show them Jesus, even as we eat together… WE ARE EXAMPLES.

That’s why United Methodist loved their covered dish dinners, because we can all find a place at the table:

If Jesus sat at your table, would you make sure he had food?

If a stranger was hungry today, who you make sure he/she knew Jesus at your table of food?

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Mark 1:14-20 “Get Out of the Boat” JUMC 20120122

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.  -NRSV

ImageOn the Sea of Galilee, Lake of Genesserat, is a contrast to the

  • The invitation starts with asking for trust.. not qualification.
  • The invitation is not based on our skills, but includes our gifts.
  • The invitation does not effect just one person, it affects the household.

Jesus calls us to follow and to catch people.

Casting a net. Story: Wanting to net-fish, but not allowed because the water is neither plentiful nor clean and the supply of fish no longer abundant.

ImageIt is nostalgic to wish for easier times or more familiar days, but it is essential that we as a congregation return to our first call to be the people of are Inviters.

Fishing with a net is throwing wide the reach of our individual message to bring people in. How many empty seats are in your car on Sunday morning?


Jesus calls ‘fishermen’ to catch people…

  1. Start with what you already know and build upon our skills.
    1. If you cook, then feed,
    2. If you make money, invest
    3. If you teach, give instruction
    4. If you are young, then as fresh questions and infuse energy
    5. If you are retired, what are you waiting to start doing God’s work.
    6. If you read and write, then share your story
    7. Get the idea?
  1. Follow instead of Leading.
    1. Do you know someone who complains, blames, and kills the joy?
    2. We have too much good to accomplish to be shooting others down.

                                              i.     Especially church folks eating Church folks for lunch..

  1. Jesus later calls Disciples who follow to step our as Leaders, but

                                              i.     Only AFTER first mastering the art of servanthood.

  1. Let Go and Get out of the Boat, Use the nets we know for new work.
    1. The role of the boat was a big one for the sons of Zebedee.

                                              i.     This is like the Rich Young Ruler actually selling everything.

  1. For US, it is identifying what keeps us from letting go to FOLLOW
  2. DISCIPLESHIP: Learning to follow..
    1. Going where we are needed to help real people who Need God.
    2. The Great commission of feeding, clothing, caring for those in need
    3. Is the response to FIRST, following..
    4. THIS IS THE FIRST FAITH LESSON for us to encourage one another.
      1. Here is an faith request:
      2. Write one this week:

                                              i.     What does it mean to you personally to “Put God First”

                                            ii.     How has life in the church transformed/blessed your life.

                                          iii.     What is the most recent way Christ has been working in you.

We may not talk during worship, but we are going to start by writing it out…

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John 1:43-51. “Invitation”. Jumc 01152012

1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. :45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” :46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” :48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” :49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” :50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” :51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”. NRSV

Follow Me
We are not there yet
I have something others want
I have a sense of where I am going
I am actively asking other to go where I am going

Come and See
Specific invitation
Anticipation and expectation
Excitement and discovery
Unfolding and revealing

A Promise to See God at Work
See your maker
Have a meeting with God
See where the buck stops, ultimately..and live to tell about it,

Text is about Jesus modeling our invitation to others,,
Go where I am taking you..
Not waiting for folks to fall in by accident
Come see what I have seen..
Not what they need or expect, necessarily
You will see God when you go looking
Are you really looking for God in what you do?

So Why Hesitate?
Some folks have lead us astray or they might and we are harder, scared or hurt.
I don’t lime following, I’d rather lead or go my own way..
I don’t know what to say, where to start, or when to go..

ASK your neighbor Right Now:
where do you find God working right now?

When is the last time you personally saw God at work in the world fist hand? I bet more people said nothing..

New approach:
Come see what I’m looking to find.
I don’t. Know it all but I know where to look.
Follow me where I am looking.
I don’t always get it right, nor ‘feel’ nor ‘get fed’ but I
Know where to go to feed my spirit.
Let’s discover God in our lives together.
This is why we have Cerf AND Honduras missions
No ONE in this room has all the answers figured ou

We are journeying together into mystery.
But we go following Christ who leads us..

This is the new invitation…
Not to know nor have it all first, but invite others to follow what we seek and want and what we hunger for.

This flies in the face of scarcity and competition
If someone find a better way we better not tell because some one will one up us or steal it from us or buy us out.

Follow me
Come see
See the hand of God at work in your life.

Next week: Getting out of the Boat

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Matthew 2.1-12. Epiphany: Home by another way. JUMC 20120109

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel. 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage. 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. -NRSV Image

The season following Christmas is Epiphany. It both commemorates thetime when the wise men arrive bringing presents, at the home, where Jesus, Mary and Joseph are living and secondly, for us is a time to witness what it means to live know the gift of have Jesus in our home and hearts.

  • If you go to the Grand Canyon, you have a new reference of what it means to dig a big hole in the back yard or how to compare a pot hole in the road.
  •  If you have a ticket for a moving violation, an NSF at the bank or failing grade at school you cross a line in the sand that has quick consequences; how you respond in the future when driving, spending or studying.

Citizenship: Vital to our identity is our right to vote: I’m not ever going to tell you HOW to vote from the pulpit, but I will always tell you, if you don’t vote, you are throwing your citizenship away. It is evident with each election that only a small percentage of ‘registered’ voters turn out, and that does not include those who have not registered in the first place.

 We have a heavenly citizenship. An old Gospel favorite hymn of mine is, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passn through and I cant be at home in this world anymore. But the truth is, as alone as you and I have breath and opportunity we have both a right and an obligation to tell others, show others, feed, clothe, and inspire others with what gives us life eternal.

Hear Reports of Sharing New Testaments: I gave mine to a young man named Phillip. He seemed genuine in the moment to receive the gift. I don’t think he threw it away. I know he read the inside cover with my name and the church name. I know he heard that God loves him and we read the verses John 3.16-17. He said, “Yeah, I’ve heard that.” I asked him, “Do you think that is true for you?” He said, “I do today.” 

Epiphany is sharing the gift, of being gifted.

  • Think what gift you could give if you would forgive someone’s past.
  • What if you would forgive a debt?
  • What if you would seek out someone, a stranger, start of friendship
  • What if you asked God to open your gifts and show Himself through you. Go Home knowing Christ loves you and lives through you!


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“The Giving Continues” Matthew 25:31-46 JUMC 20120101

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.. –NRSV

As we end the year 2011 the highest rated TV shows have been football games; number two over all and the number one series is the X-Factor. Knowing the letter “X” is Greek for CHI and a historic abbreviation for “CHRIST”. Our life and faith are founded on the X-factor. Is that the conversation you hear folks following and sharing? Or is it football teams and entertainers that we will talk about come the Day of Judgment and accountability?

As we begin 2012 I am struck with how on-target other businesses are with their marketing for the new year: For example: Weight Watchers focusing on our cultures intention to adopt fresh resolutions offer a new message for this year:  2012 The Year for Believers:

“By declaring 2012 ‘The Year to Believe’ we are sounding a rallying cry to help persons across the country turn their dreams in truth,” said Cheryl Callan, Principal Promotion Officer for Dieters. “Dieters will encircle persons with inspirational messages starting in the holiday season and then ongoing all the way through the coming year. At a time when lots of us are not feeling specifically confident, we wish to express our ardent faith in persons and the power in all of us to change for the much better. We see it take place each day. That Is what we are about, and what ‘The Year to Believe’ will be about.”

Chrysler employed a mass choir to introduce their new line of cars calling would be buyers to “Lose Themselves” MT 16, MK 8, LK 9, That sounds just like Jesus’ word for those who will follow.

Blackberry threatened by iphone and android devices calls for us to “Be Bold”  Believe: That sounds like the Gospel of John’s message and invitation! Be Bold, That sounds like the apostle Paul, 2Cor 3 and 10. How is it that?

Jesus’ messages is clear:

  • Are you aware of people other than yourself?
  • Are you aware of people who suffer?
  • What are you doing about it?

Football games have pre-games to gets us ready, excited, informed and primed.

The pre-show is not the game..

  • Get into the real game…. Feed the hungry, clothe the cold, befriend the excluded and lonely
  • Let’s look at 2011: How many hungry people did you help feed? What were their names?
  • Until the time of accountability comes:
  • Our Task, Our Mission, Our Response is Feed, Clothe, Share.

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