Archive for February, 2013

Romans 6.13b “You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure: JUMC 20130224


“Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life.” Romans 6:13b (NLT)

Central to the message of scripture is a call for us to worship. The Sabbath is set as a one-of-seven opportunities to practice the one thing we were created to do from the very beginning.

Worship is not about the style of music, it is not about liturgies and traditions, new or old. Worship is about God.

Worship is our sacrificial giving of who we are to God.

  • Worship is the activity of the first day of the week for a reason: It is the warm-up, practice for how we will live the other six days.
  • If we indeed think of worship as a day of practice, it is not actually a day of rest.
  • It becomes a day to let go of the rest that we are responsible, accountable and that in which we are burdened. Not to be reckless, rather to practice trusting God to provide.
  • What does it look like when you take a day and live it the way God hopes and dreams you and I would use and invest the life we have?

Turn to your neighbor and name one thing you ‘could’ do on any given Sunday that God hopes you would decide to do

  • Did you hear things like Pray? Give? Read? Rest? or Serve?
  • These are all good things in the right direction.
  • Thinking other than this time or worship and not including Sunday school class time. Thinking of the other 22 hours in this day of worship of God.
  • How might you use this time to prepare and practice living in relationship with God?
  • What things could you do with this mini retreat to try-out acting like the person God hopes you will mature to become?
  • What could you do to find rest-in-God rather than just sleeping?

The real question to tell your neighbor is this:

What I am actually going to do to worship God during the rest of today is… (fill in your blank)

Asked another way: What will I actually do to be available to be present with God and God’s people?

When we frame sacrifice to God in this way, we can focus on what we will gain rather than what we will give up.

  • If I spend time listening to God, I just might hear words of comfort, bless, assurance, promise and love
  • If I spend time studying and focusing on God’s plan for my life and our family and our church and community, then I might have a stronger foundation for all these relationships
  • If I invest this time, right now, I will see the fruitfulness, at a later time, just as planting seeds leads to a full garden down the road.
  • If I use the time already set aside, I don’t have to try to carve out another time to worship.
  • If I get up and come on to share in study, fellowship, singing, and prayer then I can inspire, encourage and and model faithfulness for two hundred other folks all at one time.
  • If I give extravagantly, I will see exponential work and witness of God’s hand and will around me.
  • If I give because I can, rather than because I have to, then I begin to understand how God loves and works.

If I could spend one day with God, fully doing what God wants, I will see how the whole of my life might be.

Worship as a practice time is something we need to do every day.

  • Sunday is our big practice before the day we get back to work, back to school, back to the routine, and resume the responsibilities of the rest of our life.
  • Most of the time we rush and fuss to get here on time, complain and gossip, can’t enjoy a moment from someone else’s needs or behaviors, and after lunch I’m on my own time and have done what I am suppose to do.
  • Think if you are a parent and your child comes to visit you for an hour or two and then they are gone.
  • On one hand, you want to cram as much in that short time
  • On the other hand, you want to steal the watches and car keys and just enjoy each other, learn from each other and be present with one another.

Worship is not one of those things we are suppose to do or even NEED to do.

Worship is the reason we were created.

Therefore: When we are not in worship, we are out of sorts, out of alignment, out of sync with who and what we are.

  • Starting a noon today, call a do-over. Ask over lunch of yourselves and others around you:
  • “What can I do right now to spend more time with God?”
  • “What am I willing to do, RIGHT NOW, to be with God, RIGHT NOW?”
  • “What am I giving up with God, when choose to do something that does not include or focus on God?”

WORSHIP of God may generally not very still and seldom very quiet.

  • Imaging if Saturday were a day of rest, we might have the energy and focus to make Sunday a day of WORSHIP.
  • No matter the style or tradition: Worship is an active practice.
  • No matter the time or location: Worship is what God planned for us, past-present-future

BOTTOM LINE: Worship is not about us, it what we do to express our thanks, appreciation and fellowship with God.

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Isaiah 44:2a “What on Earth am I Doing Here” Week 1 JUMC 20130217


“I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”  Isaiah 44:2a (CEV)

If someone asked you life’s big questions:

Why am I alive?  Does my life matter?  What is my purpose? What’s the point?

Some days we might sound the prophet Jeremiah who asks, “Was I born to be a disgrace?” Jer 20.18.

  • I have so many problems, disappointments, failures and sins, what difference does my life make?
  • Others will say, “My life is not so bad, I just don’t want to thing about meaning.” Life just is what it is.
  • Still others might be saying, “I love my life, just don’t take away my toys, my control, or my plans”

There are some who look for meaning and call it spiritual, but what they actually are describing is “Mystical”

Take Oprah for example, but its true of TV talk shows. Guest author after expert sit in the same chairs selling the same books that say the same thing:

“Look within yourself.” This sounds spiritual, but our purpose is always limited by our own limitations.

Another method is “Mechanical”

A self-propelled lawn mower, you look at the parts and features and you figure out what the parts are intended, but the mower does not decided what it suppose to do. It is a machine and you and I are not machines.

Still another way of answering the meaning questions is the “Me Method”

The Self-help approach. You’ve got to invent it, you’ve got to decide

Yes, you might become successful if you:

  • Follow your dreams,
  • set goal,
  • give 110%, and
  • never give up.

You might certainly become successful but that does not equate to meaning and purpose.

Purpose is far greater than your personal wealth, or fulfillment, more than your dreams because you can have great success and still feel empty and want only more.

There is the Mental Approach

Philosopher René Descartes taught,  “I think therefore I am.” The trouble that patients with Dementia and Ahlzimer’s would cease to exist repeatedly throughout the day.

And there is the “It’s Meaningless” Method

There is no purpose: Don’t bother searching.

We live in a God removed culture and its no wonder folks give up on God because we have given up on God…

Here lies the path for our journey.


Ask your creator. The answer is direct: We are made by God for God’s purpose

Prov 16.4 Lord made for God’s purpose. Not yours…

TEST: If you are living and breathing then God has a purpose for you.


Significance: Isaiah 49.4 my work seems to be for no purpose, life seems pointless.

We are made for meaning!

Significance is worth more than wealth, health, strength, etc…

We find significance through God

“I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”  Isaiah 44:2a (CEV)


Accidental parents and unexpected births, but all have purpose  Psalm 139.16 you saw me before I was born.

Knowing all our dumb decisions and those of others, God still loves us, dispite all Purpose will last for ever. His plans endure forever.. Psalm 33.11

WHAT DO I DO ABOUT God’s purposes NOW

Life is prep for eternity.

This life is prep for the next, that is the meaning.

We are hear to be prepared for what we are going to do from now on..

WRITE IT ON YOUR HEARTS: I was made to last forever.

The sum of your life is not the experiences of your years.

God determines our significance.

This life is our prep for understanding that significance..


  • Pre-school,
  • the warm up lap,
  • the pre-SAT,

Our Purpose now is to practice… mistakes are expected during the practice

When this tent…there will be a house that lasts forever…. 2 Cor. 5.1

  • 1.God made you to love you
  • 2.God made to last forever, meaning
  • 3.Intention: What is MY purpose

SO WHAT: Particularly, What do “I” do now before eternity

This the next five weeks will be talking about how we practice finding and understanding our meaning and purpose.

HOW: Go to the creator and ask..

Ask the inventor, read the owners manual,

Why did you make me? This is the prayer we will practice

The more you know God


Col 1.16 everything finds its purpose in God.

Life is about God. It’s not about you.

Otherwise it does not make sense.

Get to know God is to learn your purpose

“It’s not about me, it’s all about God”

It’s not about you, it’s all about God…repeat


40 days to unfold…

a spiritually significant period throughout bible

  • Noah rain,
  • moses on mt,
  • david prepares for Goliath,
  • city of Niniva 40 days to repent,
  • disciples 40 days after the resurrection.

25550 day in 70 years… is it worth 40 to be clear about your purpose


Dear God

If it were not for you I would not be alive

You have a purpose for me

I admit I’ve been focused on my plan

I commit the next 40 days to learning your purpose

Thank you for creating me

My life will last for ever

Thank you for bringing me to this place

I want to live with meaning

I want to get to know your better

I take the first step today

Teacher me what you want me to know



Resource “What on Earth am I Here for?” by Rick Warren

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2 Cor 3.12-4.2 “Act with Great Boldness” A Transfiguration Call to Witness JUMC 20130210


Mt Tabor: Mount of the Transfiguration of our Lord

NRSV Lectionary Readings for Transfiguration Sunday

Exodus 34:29-35
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 99
The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Luke 9:28-36
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

The Veil was a comfort, protection and separation from the people.

You have a surgical mask to wear this morning. I invite you to wear one. In the cold and flu season we need be extra careful, (at 11am: if they seem a little wrinkled its because we used them at 9am as well, NOT serious.) Most often when people wear a mask it is not because they have a germ or illness that they don’t want you to catch. It is more likely they don’t want your germs, bugs, and contagions.

For most folks, when you see someone with a mask like ours on their face, we respond to the unwritten message: STAY AWAY! Is Jesus’ message to the world, stay away? Mind your own business? Suit yourself? Leave us alone? I’m a problem you don’t want to deal with? Certainly not.

But neither are these the messages we are called to witness to the world.

I had a friend in school who’s parents worked at the Center for Disease Control near Emory University. He received so much ridicule and reluctancy of school friends to go to his house because there was a fear that his parents would bring home some horrible agent from work and contaminate everyone who entered. It was unfounded, ignorant and mean.

Think of the people that we might not want to befriend because they are unclean, (physically and/or spiritually) Picture the folks who we don’t want to know about in our community and in the world. We would change the channel on reality and say those problems are not our responsibility. When we pretend that God wants us to only reach out to a few, people like ourselves.. we put a veil, something to separate us.

Paul’s words to the church at Corinth remind us of the opposing message to that of the world’s self-preservation:

When we look to Jesus, we are looking into a mirror that shows us the face, image, witness and work of God. And the reverse is true for the world. God has chosen to use the Holy Spirit to reflect the work, face, image, wintess and power of God through our face.

Be bold, don’t cover up your face.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are about removing the barriers between people and God.

Not only are we caution and hesitant about germs and illness. We are more regularly reluctant to allow Christ to shine at home, at work, at school, at Walmart, Tanger and Target.  Are we bold on the field? Are we bold when we are playing with family and friends? Are we bold in reflecting Christ when we meet a stranger or neighbor?

SO WHAT: So what does the transfiguration of our Lord have to do with me today? The event is about revealing. It is a revelation of who Jesus is and what his is about. He is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. He is the teacher and leader to the disciples. He is the healer and restorer of the people. He is the correction and wholeness to sin and brokenness, now and for all time.

Moses and Elijah show up to talk about what was about to happen in Jerusalem. A hand full of disciples get to see this thing first hand. The whole, complete image of God revealed. Peter immediatly wants to build something to remember the occasion.

Jesus takes them down the mountain and said, remember me, not where you found me.

KEY: God is more interested in us, than in the state God we find God is with US.

-= God Calls for Boldness in telling this clear and revealed message to the world around us: It’s not where find Jesus is God’s power/grace/life for you. It is that God wants you so much that he would go to Jerusalem and die that you might live.

Do you now someone today that does not know, has heard it but does not believe it? Be Bold And show them the way to Christ.

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 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]

Knowing God’s Part..

We only know part, but the part we know, is love.

There are times that my drama days in high school find their way into my mind. Lines for Cole Porter’s “Any Thing Goes”, “The Doctor in Spirt of Himself” by Molière, or Rogers and Hammerstein’s, “Oklahoma” to name a few.  I can come up with lines I once memorized “Progress is the root of all evil. Progress is the cause of it all”, and “e pluribus unum amore vencen omnia, and that sir that is precisely why your daughter is mute” or “I got to Kansas City on Friday, by Saturday I’d learned a thing or two.” But these little snips of random parts in different plays show up in conversations. They don’t capture the plots of the plays and they don’t mean anything to anyone else. There are parts missing the other lines and stories.

Paul writes about us not knowing fully the things of God. Some questions we might ask God when we have time in heaven are not productive to ask from this side of the fence. Usually the most frequent question is WHY? Why did they have to did? Why does it take so long? Why do I have to yield? Why. I believe if we knew the answer to our why questions we still would not like the answers. Ask them later, face-t0-face.

What lines of the drama of our relationship with God DO we know? What part of the story can we comprehend? What does make sense and gives hope and faith to our living? The answer: Love.

Love is the part of God’s work that we can understand. Its the one thing we can learn. Its the one thing we can mmmic and develop in our experience. We may not have all the answers, Paul declares, but the ONE we do have is Love.

Love: It’s what’s for Dinner

The meal of holy communion is a meal of love. Much like Momma’s cheese biscuits, and Mama’s Brunswick stew, and Granny’s chicken dressing, Ms Anne’s Cream cheese pound-cake with chocolate glazed icing, Granddaddy’s first of the season water melons: these are special foods that were not only taste, they were gifts of love for a family that was loved.

The meal we share today is a glimpse of the banquet that is prepared for us, even in the presence of our enemies. The church at Corinth was filled and sounded by folks of differing agendas, beliefs and behaviors. It is no different that our gathering as church now. The meal we share, we do so as an act of worship and a fellowship with God and God’s people. With all God’s love and all our empty words, false ideas, physical limitations and generous gifts, God trumps all we offer, with the power and gift of Love.

Calling All Lovers: It is our season

Not simple because February 14 is just around the corner and guy need to come up with some alternative to a box of chocolates and flowers that will fade, (This is a shameless plug for Letter From Dad) we are reminded that we have a part to play in the world and it follow Christ’s lead. Love.

We may have great faith and grand vision of hope, but the power behind the curtain is our ability to love.

Love is when we don’t keep score of faults, love waits, love prefers to be behind instead of ahead, it yields, it sees the best, it celebrates, it carries, trusts and is real.

Come to the table and be filled with the love of God, that you may love one another.

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