Archive for October, 2012

Mark 10.46-52 “Spring In Your Step” JUMC 20121028

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. [NRSV]

On one hand this is an awesome miracle story of restoration.

On the other hand it is the ordinary story of someone trying to connect with Jesus in everyday life.

Here the practical side of this passage: How to get up when we are blind, stuck and blocked…

A. I want mercy.

“Give me a break” “Back-off” “I need some space” Like the elementary school games of squeezing hands until someone yields. (Actually this is a gross muse use of the word.”

“I need to be heard even though I am one voice” “I want to be included even though I have nothing to offer.” “i’m on the side-line or stuck on the back-burner.” Lord Jesus come to me.

MERCY: is loving-kindness. Kindness grounded in love not fairness or payment (No killing with Kindness model)

B. Stern Dis-Couragers.

Demotivators: Failure: When you tried your best and it wasn’t good enough,

Think of all that works against us.

Those who were nearest to the Son of Tomas, worked hard to keep him quiet, in his place, and away from embarsing them.

There are those who have a reputation for being needy, disappointing, frustrating, ignorant and even stubborn..

C: The antithesis of MERCY: Judgement

Some sternly complained, rebuked, rejected, and silenced the voice of the voice-less.

Those in our own community, family and church can be some of the hardest obstacles to finding Jesus.

What happens when the faithful become the ANTI- disciples, the discourager, the silencers

Bartemas, bartemas… the son of Tomas’ son.. REPUTATION of multiple generations… either in success or failure, Bar-Bartomas is KNOWN by all as a bother, an interruption, or a dis-appointment.

D. Jesus asked. “Naming what we want.”

NOW WAIT: Why does Bartamas get up this time and not some other day?
If the spiritual journey we travel is to connect with Jesus
And we too want to respond to that invitation of Jesus to, COME, and meet him in daily life, crisis or searching
How do you get up in your blindness and know where to run to Jesus:
This is where the story is both MIRACULOUS and ORDINARY.

Bricks in a coat pocket object lesson!

<How do you leap when your pockets are filled with failure, fear, shame, hurt, guilt, pride, etc?

Seek Mercy and be freed-up to get up with

Spring up and come to Jesus

Q:What about Jesus changes lives
Q: What gives. Spring in your step

Mercy is that power

Bart asks and
Jesus offers
When we hear mercy we have the power to move, change, grow and go.
When we hear that Jesus wants us, we have a reason to and a direction to move
When we reach out to someone as a disciples/witness of Jesus, we give them a reason to move.
One motive is to scare people out of hell, yell at people until they are warn-out or afraid… THAT IS NOT MERCY.
As we live the life of a disciples today: Our message is to empower others by OPENING the door to MERCY.
SO WHAT: Show no grace and mercy to others and show me where you connect with Jesus
Don’t be so busy, confident or sure… Show Loving-Kindness instead, today!

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Mark 10:35-45 “Wishing to be First” JUMC 20121021

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]


Ringling Bros Circus prides itself in having the greatest show on earth. It’s impressive and big, but is it the greatest? 

Tony the Tiger believes his Frosted Flakes are Great! I think Honey bunches of Oats are even better.

Olympics 1996, member and friend volunteer repairing the hand rail going up to the Olympic Caldron the night of the opening games. The torch arriving and he is duct taping at the last second. Turns around in the shadow, literally inches off camera and facing Mohamed Ali. The Greatest.

Greatness is not something that everyone seeks. In fact we could make a case that most folks want to stay out of the spotlight. Looking at the text, ten disciples are angry with two for raising the bar. If we are being evaluated or compared to our piers we don’t want them to do better than us because that would make us look bad.  We have an unwritten pack to reach for the middle or even the lowest common denominator. 

 Jesus’ word is not to go looking for Greatness. 

 It will follow your trust and service.

 Don’t set out with the intention to beat the system. 

 The life of discipleship (Being a Christian) is not to won or lost, it 

 Is received as part of the relationship with God.

 Got Glory?

We may not all long to be the top of the heap or the head of the pack, but who does not enjoy a long shower of glory and praise?

We like to be recognized, praised and appreciated. 

We like seeing our name in the paper, (as long as its not bad news)

We like it when folks think we are “good people.” No one wants a bad reputation. (Notorious: Famous for being bad)

What would we do to be liked? Children learn at a young age that test and temptation of doing right or wrong to be “in” or “cool.”

Even as adults who say they don’t want attention or credit, we have an uncomfortable knot in the stomach when someone takes credit for good that we, or someone else, has done. 

Looking at the text, Jesus looks to the disciples and says: “You don’t know what you are asking.” 

It is both encouraging and affirming to have others praise what we do, but if we set out to be praised as our goal, then our efforts are empty. 

Glory is the by-product of good that is has been done. This is true of God’s glory or our own.  But if we set out to do good things with the hope and goal of receiving glory.. we find the work empty.

Why? If we go looking for the fruit without caring for the tree we have a meal but not a livelihood. Greatness and Glory comes from service..

A Life of Service, comes first.

Jesus uses the disciples struggle as a teaching point:

First: Don’t worry about being first in line. Work diligently to serve and greatness will follow

And: Don’t do it for the praise, the deduction or the credit and you will find joy, credit and the prize that service builds.

The last shall be first: it is a common theme in the gospels..

Why do we need to hear it repeated?

  • We don’t have to tell people we are not looking for greatness/ glory/ credit/ praise/ approval/ when we actually are doing just that.
  • We don’t have to qualify and apologize for acts of service or humility. They don’t need explaining or defending.
  • As followers, we are disciples, those who are learning and developing what it means to be committed, trusting, disciplined in the path of Jesus.


Greatness comes from the Greatest.. Seek God not greatness

Glory and Praise are motivators… don’t seek them as the goal

Service: is the ideas and words of our faith in actions.. that shape the type of relationship we have with each other and God.

God comes to save the least, last and lost.. The rest of us know to follow, trust and love shown in Jesus Christ. 

 So lets’ get to the back of the line.

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Mark 10:17-31 “Through the Eye of a Needle” JUMC 20121014

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” [NRSV]


Discipleship: Following Jesus

1. Is it actually that impossible?

a. John Wesley offers three simple rules for disciples: Do No Harm, Do all the Good you can, Practice piety.

b. Jesus has one rule, give up that which is most important to you and then you can follow.

c. Who can do what no one else can do? Not Me. But what does it mean to have Jesus in me?

2. What is at stake?

a. The truth about our piety and other acts of kindness and faithfulness

b. What do people say discipleship is?

c. What Jesus says discipleship is all about..

3. Last Things First!

a. Where to start? At the end of the story: We start at the Resurrection and Death of Jesus, we know the end of the story

b. We know how things can turn out if we trust the start of the story.

c. Give it a test, give up what’s holding you back and watch Christ be revealed in your life.


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Luke 22:15-20 “I have eagerly desired to eat with you” World Communion Sunday JUMC 20121007

15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. [NRSV]

Jesus gathers with this disciples and a core group of devoted followers in the upper room to share a Passover.

The gift of sharing a table.

Imagine giving up your seat at the table for a guest or even a different chair for a family members. It does us well to make room at the table.

The passion of eagerly desiring to eat.

There are neighbors who are hungry today. Not because their is a lack of food, but for a hundred reasons, some very unhealthy and the direct cause of poor choice,but some are hungry because of the choices of others. For those who are just that hungry, we can image the powerful desire for a good meal.

Imagine opening a Golden Coral with chocolate fountain and 200 items in the middle of most urban areas of poverty. They know how to feed a crowd, why don’t we

The passion of eagerly desiring to eat with someone.

Eating with another person is a fairly intimate activity. You learn about each other and are in good proximity for heart to heart. AND, while our stomachs are satisfied we just might be more likely to listen to one another. Talkers have to be quiet for a moment to eat and listeners have that window to open up.

World Communion

This Sunday we sit down to eat, not a covered dish dinner, no deviled eggs, green bean casseroles nor fried chicken, instead the true bread and satisfying drink. This table is one where we all have a place, where the menu is simple and it is a banquet spread provided by someone  else for our benefit and blessing.

Come to the table, join the world.. in Jackson, Georgia, America and Honduras, Uganda, China and even Syria, Afganistan, Libya and Iran. Christ have given his life for us all.

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