Archive for November, 2019
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! [NRSA]
Walking in the Light
Just last night I stubbed my little toe for the third time this week. OOOh. OWwww. UMph! I was not looking where I was stepping. I was thinking of my destination and didn’t pay attention to the path. I suppose I am as stubborn and my toe pays the price.
This first Sunday of Advent is a call to walk the path of light. We will see the path in the words of prophets from long ago, in the brilliance of angel songs, in the order of distant stars and throughout the witness of God’s word for us and for the world.
If the world is to be transformed by the AWESOME work and news we find at Christmas it will not be through packages, decorations and jolly traditions of giving. We find Christ when we follow the path Christ’s light leads us, and then, only then, other traditions may follow.
The Advent Tradition Reveals our Journey
We will light candles of Hope Peace Joy and Love
These are our milestone markers along the way
Start Walking – Walking in the Light
Start disciplines of singing, reading, preparing for Christ.
With Luke’s Gospel, start reading and studying the core story in Chapter 1 and the start of 2. You will surely know the stories but read them with an intention to retell them, teach them, and find your presence in the stories.
- Are you the parent?
- A child?
- a messenger?
- an unbeliever?
- a doubter?
- a late-night employee?
- The aunt or uncle?
- a bystander?
- one blessed ready to serve?
- one who was scared?
We can find ourselves in many if not most of these throughout our lives.. These are the perspectives
The prophet Amos had a son, Isaiah, one of the most prolific prophets of God’s people, has a word for all of God’s people, those of the North and the South; those of the Left and the Right; a word for those Then and for us Now!
Advent is our Journey toward Christmas
- It is an upward climb up the highest mountain, with a the greatest view
- The path is a process with purpose and faithfulness.
- Instructions are for the world and not the reverse
- The Word of the Lord is from Jerusalem for the world to hear, see, believe and trust
- We have a judge among the nations
- The judgment will be working toward peace and not war
- The work will be transformational
- Everyone in the house, listen up and be ready for the journey
- It is time to walk in the light.
I have enjoyed many hikes in my life. The memorable ones were not easily accomplished. The same will be true for our spiritual journey this month. We are tempted to take the ride up to the top or look at someone else’s photos taken at the summit but we are cheating ourselves from the hike.
Isaiah’s call is to follow the path.
There are times that the adventure is off the beaten path, but the spiritual path toward finding Christ born afresh and anew in outlives is found following God’s path.
God’s path follows
- the wisdom of prophets
- the messages of angels
- the call of faithfulness, and
- the steadiness of trusting God to be revealed in the process.
There is not a shortcut in spiritual growth.
Our Task is to make Peace
We know Jesus is the Prince of Peace and if we are following Christ’s path, it will be a journey of peacemaking.
It is worth great note that Isaiah is addressing a divided kingdom.
The answer is not for the northern or southern kingdom to yield to one or the other, RATHER
BOTH are to yield toward God’s heart
The witness of doing God’s Work revealed in Christ is to TRANSFORM the elements of the
battle into implements of building, feeding, clothing and healing the nations.
We have witnessed a great day of rivalries in the college football world this weekend.
- It is easy to take sides
- maintain traditions
- cheer for our team
- and boo the enemies
- It’s a fun legacy of honoring alma mater and celebrating traditions
But it is just the opposite of the work we have ahead of us as those looking for Christ.
We begin in the HOPE of peace.
Before HOPE is fulfilled for us in CHRIST, begin our work of TRANSFORMING the things that divide us so that we are less apt to resume a battle if we are not preparing for battle.
We have friends whose child just got accepted to UT, the mother is an alumnus of Vanderbilt, she was lamenting the wearing of Orange. We reminded her that she could wear White and Smokey Grey and still show her support as a loving mother.
In the weightier matters of our lives, we see the division of politics and the best place to transform the weapons might be social media. Avoid the public responses that brand and shame, and find ways to communicate one-to-one in ways bridge rather than promote the fight.
There are times that we are scared, threatened, challenged, inconvenienced, tested and even attacked and out self-preservation is to return the attack or withdraw. Nations become divided when people stop treating one another with respect and trust. Instead of working toward the same goal, selfishness wins.
The church is divided over selfishness in the name of God. That is actually blasphemy
The nation is divided over power in the name of Good. That is delusion
When families or friends are divided over agendas. That is polarization
Blasphemy – Delusions – Polarizations have NOTHING to do with the path of God’s Kingdom.
The Road to Christ
is shedding the tools of fear and brokenness
Transforming these talents for those that build
Trust in God, A quest for God’s Heart and the unity that ONLY God can provide.
We celebrate these being made clearest and nearest through Jesus Christ.
First, Start climbing, spend the time, words, relationships, and tools we have on God’s path and not our own.
Confess our sins, fear, brokenness, selfishness, shame, and journey together
May the first week of December/ Advent be transforming ourselves to become God’s implements, God’s people
- God’s prophets,
- builders, and
- all those who know to stay on God’s path of Light.
This is our HOPE to start the climb.
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers–all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. [NRSA]
We are thankful for many things. Our litany of appreciations includes the usual, family, health, home and nation and for those who helped us preserve our great opportunities. But one thing is missing from this list that differs between Thanksgiving and Paul’s words to the church at Colosse: Giving God Thanks, Joyfully.
Paul reminds us of why we encourage one another to not only be thankful but to GIVE thanks. Because of God’s work and love of us through CHRIST.
And we say to ourselves,
- that’s semantics,
- Just say what you were going to say and remember to give God some ‘love’n’
- Give God some credit
- make sure you name God and Jesus in your lists of thanksgiving appreciations.
- Check that off the list and get to the turkey and fixing, ball games and naps.
Paul’s words to the Church have little to do with our tradition of natives and settlers sharing a meal of fellowship.
Paul is reminding us to order life in God’s Purpose.
(he is reminding us that the Home Run life is living in the fruit of God’s grace and purpose:
Say to your neighbor: I am Thankful God. I am thankful for God.
- It is because of God, that we HAVE a share in Christ’s inheritance.
- It is because Christ has rescued us from sin and death,
- It is through Christ that we are children of light and
- It is through Christ that we are co-heirs of God’s kingdom.
- It is Jesus that we give thanks.
Remind Your Neighbor of Paul’s words to the church: I am thankful for Jesus
- Jesus who makes God visible and approachable to God,
- It is because of God’s Power who has
- authority and power above all other things.
- It is because God has created all things for God’s purpose,
- The cause to give thanks is that even though God who is the author of all things, has created us for God’s purposes, for God’s order. God’s order is through the church.
Tell another neighbor: I am thankful God purpose include us in the church
- God is the head of the body
- God is the beginning of the purpose
- God is the author of life.
- God who is all this, places God’s own self into Jesus who then sacrifices himself for us.
As Christians, we are to take every day to GIVE GOD THANKS, but on this holiday of THANKSGIVING, we witness to the world about what God has done and is doing in the world.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang recall our national heritage of breaking bread and giving thanks because of the fruitful work of cooperation and teamwork. And we can “KEEP” the tradition going for another generation and NEVER mention the PRIMARY reasons we have to be THANKFUL AND GIVE THANKS.
Tell your neighbor there is a difference between BEING Thankful and GIVING Thanks.
“There is a difference between BEING Thankful and GIVING Thanks.
When acknowledging all the things, people and opportunities we have we are tempted to highlight only what we have done or to
highlight what others have done, but
BUT, as PEOPLE of JESUS CHRIST
Paul is reminding us to ALWAY be GIVING Thanks to God.
What does that mean in every day life and
how Does this make our Holiday different from a national tradition.
IT IS A THIRD BASES activity. To use our Home Run Life model.
We are taking the context of a National Holiday and to REMIND one another and to
WITNESS to the WORLD, that God is the FIRST recipient of our THANKS and PRAISE
- GIVE our Praise to God
- GIVE credit to God
- GIVE Christ the appreciation
Actively connect the skills, relationships, opportunities we have as gifts from GOD.
- And then has God is at work in the others in our lives
And then as God is work in our blessings and labors
Therefore for us, as the church and the people of Jesus Christ
May we use this occasion to teach the nation, the world and one another
- that would not be the people we are without God
- we would not have to peace and love without Christ
- we would not have purpose, power, and plan without God’s Holy Spirit.
This is the difference in REMEMBERING history, tradition, and values, and LIVING, modeling and thriving in the authority of God, the love of Christ and power of the Spirit.
Tonight we gather to give thanks as a church family
This week we gather with others to give thanks
my invitation to you, through Paul’s words,
- it to make it about all about God, make all about Jesus, make it all about the church
- and we will not only show our love and praise to God
- We will teach the world the Good News and WHY we are Thankful.
Give it all to God
Tell you neighbor : “I am all in for God.” I AM ALL IN,
Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus; Thank you Jesus, my Savior, My God
You have Bought me, You have brought me, YOU have brought me a mighty long way
and I Thank You…
HOME RUN LIFE Week 4
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. [CEB]
Getting Past Third Base Pressures and Temptations
What’s On Third?
1. Have you ever worried about money?
2. Have you ever struggled with people at work?
3. Have you had others measuring your performance/success?
Third is the place our Talents, Skills, and Opportunities
Intersect with the Expectations of the World.
Life is more than 3rd Base
Q: Is my purpose in life to meet the world’s or God’s expectation?
- My PURPOSE is in my CREATOR,
- not my CAREER, WEALTH, nor MY MIND
- Therefore I live AND work for my CREATOR first!
A Home Run Life is actually putting God ahead of everything
What does that look like in our lives?
- God is my provider, I TRUST in God. – Begin day focused in GOD
- God is provider, I WORK for God. – Colossians 3:22-25
- God is my provider, I WAIT for God’s FAVOR. – Joshua 23 (1:1000)
When we are living in God’s Character, building relationships with others in God, God will provide a way for us to be successful in God’s Work in our 3rd base opportunities and responsibilities.
Which of these gives me more trouble today?
Don’t WALK when we should be RUNNING – a life of working for Jesus Christ, God doesn’t bless crap.
There is no way to be 100 in every area of our lives unless we follow God’s pattern. Giving our BEST
(Story of the House cleaner who got a second chance — a $1.61 — the only one who found all the gifts.