Sheep in pasture

Sheep in pasture
Feed My Sheep, Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep

Monday, June 12, 2017

Let It Go...

June 11, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
Trinity Sunday!
Sermon Series:
 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
“Healing Hold-Out’s”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Psalm 8
Mark 10:17-31 MSG



“Let It Go…!”

The Lord be with you
And also with you
Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10, verses 17-31 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)


And as if her thoughts were heard nurse Faith looked at her and said, “It’s going to be OK. I just know it is. You and your friends will be ok too. It may take some time but it will happen.” “How do you know that?” Hope asked. “Well” Faith said, “you have to have a little faith…no pun intended…” They both laughed a little. “It is good to hear you laugh” Faith told her “too many people don’t know how to laugh. They can only concentrate on what has happened in their lives…or not happened in their lives. They go through their life bitter and resentful, unable to see the beauty of the day.”

“Well doesn’t everyone live like that?” Hope asked, “life is tough and there are so many things that happen in your life it just begins to add up and you kind of get crushed by the weight of it all.” “Oh, dear Hope, you have it all wrong…it not the life you have that matters. It’s what you do with that life that does. You can live your life being crushed by the rock you are pushing up a hill or…you can let that rock go and roll into the hands of God who can fix anything” Faith explained. “I wish I knew that for sure. I have pushing a heavy rock and being crushed in so many ways. I have lived alone so long I don’t think I can give up and trust anyone…let alone someone or something I can’t see” Hope explained to Faith. “Well my dear, that’s where faith comes in…again…no pun intended…”

 “How can I know for sure?” Hope asked. “Well try this…little by little…let something go to God. Maybe only one thing a day, Eventually I think you are going to just give everything all at once to God and that rock you’ve been pushing will suddenly become a pebble you can just walk right over. It won’t happen overnight. But God is able and ready to take our burdens…if we choose to believe and trust.” Faith told her. Faith put her arm around Hopes shoulder and said “Give it a shot. What do you have to lose other than the rock your pushing up hill…” “You have a point” Hope smiled. “Now let’s go check on your friend. There should be more news about her condition by now” As they walked down the hall, Hope wondered what was going to happen. She was a little nervous about seeing her friends but there was something about nurse Faith that gave her a sense of ease. She knew that this was going to be hard…letting go the rock, but it was something she needed to do. She didn’t realize how much she was going to need this new found thought pattern. But it was going to be a turning point in her life that she never expected.

Good morning. Happy Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the Trinity …. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…our God head three in one. This is what we believe as Christ followers. This is one of the foundations of our faith. Praise Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…Amen.

For weeks now we have been talking about what ails us. We have had a lot of good conversation over our ailments as we have been interactive with one another during our sermon time…so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Nurse Faith and how she wanted to help Hope with her inner issues. Now we have heard a lot about Hope, Joy, and Grace but we need to realize that it’s not just the situations around Hope but there are also situations within Hope herself that need a little mending. She too carries a lot to the table of friendship… Faith had no issue about talking about her faith…no matter where she was. I consider that being a bold Christian. You never know what will happen when we talk about God and our faith outside our church walls…It is what we do with our faith that helps us make a mole hill out of a mountain…so to speak…

I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to heal what ails us to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back our streets…the places where we are called to share the Gospel of Grace, Hope, Joy, and Faith. Without healing, what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrected people. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

Today I want us to continue to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear immobilizes us and keeps us stuck in the mud…unable to move forward for Christ and the Good News. fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity. As we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.

Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. Lady Ms. Trust loves to come in and stir up a whole lot of nothing and sit back as we begin to come unglued together because we are suspicious and untrusting each other.

What about holdouts? Merriam Webster gives us this definition of holdout:
: a person who refuses to reach an agreement until certain terms are met: a person who holds out
: an act of holding out for something
: a person who continues to do or use something after others have stopped doing or using it
We can all tend to be holdouts at times. Sort of like that rock analogy that Faith used with Hope. Pushing a rock and being crushed by it because it continues to roll back on us as we try to push it up a hill…and the hill is usually pretty steep…  Why do you think we holdout…hold on to things that do nothing but crush us? Give time to answer. Do you think that the church is a “holdout” at times and why? Give time to answer. What about our church here in Patten…what are we holding out or holding on to? Give time to answer. Do you think we can be used as fully as God wants to use us if we continue, why or why not? Give time to answer.

Being a holdout is a worldly way of living not a Christ centered way of living. In the scripture this morning, the young man did everything perfect as he followed all the rules and laws given…but...when asked to give up something that he was holding onto…his worldly possessions…he refused to do it. He kept holding out on the life he could have had. A life free of worry…a life of abundance…a life of joy. We too have those times when we hold on to things that just don’t really matter in the big scheme of things…those things that matter most to God. We hold on to grudges, we hold onto narrow thinking…we hold onto judgment …we hold on to prejudges…we hold onto…fill in the blank. We become sort of invalid because we are holding onto things that stop us from being the body of Christ…that stop us from being not only relevant but actually usable by God. The rich man walked away dejected…how many times do we walk away because we refuse to heal in the Light of Christ?

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But we cannot/will not let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

What are we being holdout’s about? Do we want to be healed or just continue on the road we are on? I we choose not to heal… there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Are we, you and I ready and willing to take Faith’s advice and bring our things we hold on to…those boulders we are trying to push up a hill…and little by little give them to God who will make rubble out of them…allowing us to step into His Glorious light of healing and grace?

Think about the Hope’s of this world. Do you think we are a place that she would come and find us letting go instead of holding onto things that stop us from being the Light of Christ? We call ourselves a Hope Giving Church. Would Hope find the giving of mercy, of grace, of joy? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church as we work through our faith journey together trusting in the One who knows us best.

Maybe…just maybe…Hope will come through our doors. What will she find here?

Amen.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Trust

June 4, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
Pentecost Sunday!
Sermon Series:
 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
“Healing Trust”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Psalm 104:24-35
Mark 10:13-16 MSG
Luke 24:44-53 MSG
Acts 2:1-13; 38-42 The Message (MSG)


“Trust.…”

The Lord be with you
And also with you
Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10, verses 13-16. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)


As Hope, Joy and Grace went off arm in arm, laughing and getting to know each other better. No one could have known what was going to happen next. Would their new-found friendship stand the test it was in for?

Hey guys, let’s go down by the river and see what’s going on” Joy suggested. “I don’t know about that” Hope exclaimed, “I was always told never to go there, especially at night. You never know what could be down there…or should I say who.” “/come on Hope. Where is your sense of adventure?” Joy asked. “She may be right” Grace interjected “ I have heard that strange things happen there at night.” “Well if you two stick in the muds don’t want to go, I guess I will just go myself.” Joy said as she started to walk off. “Wait up” both Hope and Grace said, “We will go with you. You should never go alone.” “Yes!”

When they got to the river there were several people standing around and it looked like they were up to no good. “I don’t know about this” Grace said “It looks like they are up to no good to me. I think we should get out of here before they see us.” “I know these guys” Hope said “there ok. They are friends of mine. Trust me.” “If you say so” Joy and Grace said, a little uneasy.

“Hi guys. What ya up to?” hope asked. “Not much Hope. Who are these people you brought with you? You know how we don’t like strangers around here.” “there cool. This is Joy and Grace” Hope told them. “Grace and Joy huh. Well they don’t look so graceful and leaping for joy to meet us “ they laughed. Joy and Grace were getting nervous and decided it was time to go. “Come on Hope. Let’s just go.” They were pulling her away from them and all of the sudden there was gun fire. “everyone get down….” Their “new found friends exclaimed. But it was too late, Grace had been hit.

“I knew that we shouldn’t have come here. I trusted you and look what happened. I will never trust anyone like you ever again.” Joy screamed. “Someone call 911.” But the only people there were Hope, Joy and Grace now on the ground bleeding.

When they finally got to the hospital they were pretty shacken up. As they sat there waiting to hear news about Grace, the head nurse came to speak to them. She wore a name tag that just said “faith” on it. “Hi girls, my name is Faith and I am the nurse in charge of your friend Grace. Can you tell me what happened?” asked Faith. “It’s al her fault, I should have never trusted someone like her.” Joy blurted out. “My fault. Why is it my fault. I didn’t know that was going to happen. I wasn’t the one who shot her and you didn’t have to go with me either” “That’s enough girls. This is not helping your friend any. I believe she will be OK. She might have to be here for a while but she is going to be ok.” Faith explained. “How do you know that?” both of the girls asked. I just know it will…this is not what God would have planned for her…”.

As Faith walked away, Hope tried to talk to her hurting friend, “I am so sorry. I would never have gone there if I know this was going to happen.” “Well you can just keep you apology. My friends were right. People like you should never be trusted.” Joy screamed at her friend. After saying that she stormed off to try and find out more information on her friend. Hope just sat there and cried… “It’s all my fault. I really am one of those people. How could I ever think I could be part of them.” Hearing this, nurse Faith came over and sat next to Hope. She didn’t say a word, just sat there with her… I wonder what was going to happen next...

Good morning. Happy Pentecost Sunday…the birthday of the church! This morning can we continue to be interactive with each other as. I really have enjoyed the way we have conversed with one another over the past few weeks… so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out to me was the way that Joy reacted to Hope after her friend had been shot.…I really don’t know if Hope is ever going to earn Joy’s trust back. I think that I may have felt the same if I had been in that position.
I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to heal what ails us in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back the land of our forefathers. Without healing what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrection people so we need to rise from the grave of the world around us. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

Today I want us to continue to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… On the 11th of June, my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity. As we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.

Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. How many of you have ever had an incident in their lives that they lost trust in something or someone? How did that make you feel? Give time to answer. Do you think you will ever trust that person or that thing again? Give time to answer. Trust is something I like to give people…that is until they prove me wrong. Then it is hard for me to totally trust that person…or thing…again. What or who do you trust the most…that you put your trust in? Give time to answer.

From the Scripture this morning, we hear how we are to enter into the Kingdom of God...with childlike trust. Why do you think it is so hard to have that childlike trust? Give time to answer? In the world we live in, it seems that most people live for themselves and trust no one. If they trusted then that person could do …fill in the blank… and we can’t have that happening…

Why do you think that it is so important for us, as Christ’s Church, to have trust? Give time to answer. The church began in faith and trust. Listen to the story of the first Pentecost Sunday and see if you can see why we as a church need to trust not only God…but one another.

A Sound Like a Strong Wind
1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
    Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
    Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”
13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”
Acts 2:38-42The Message (MSG)
38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”
40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Wow…what pieces of trust do you see here? Do you think without that there would have been a growth of the church? Give time to answer. But the trust thing began before this day. Luke 24:44-53 is where it began. Listen to what the scripture tells us:
Luke 24:44-53The Message (MSG)
You’re the Witnesses
44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”
45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”
50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52-53 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
It began with the disciples trust in what Jesus told them. If they had not trusted in what Jesus had told them they never would have gone back to the city. They would not have been altogether in one place. They would not have been His witnesses all over the world. We cannot be His witnesses if we are not trusting and having divisions with one another church…

If we do not believe Jesus when He tells us to bring what is broken and He will fix it wat is the point of believing at all? If we don’t believe that God can heal anything, what is the point of believing? If we don’t believe the promises, what is the point of believing? If we don’t come with childlike faith, with each other, and believe Jesus can fix us then… Without childlike faith…childlike trust how can we enter the throne room and be healed? It all begins with trust… They say “time can heal the broken heart” but I believe it is trust in the One who created us that heals the broken heart…

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But we let cannot/will not fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

It is Pentecost Sunday, are we willing to trust and receive the Holy Spirit? Remember…it began and begins in trust. Without trust, there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Can we be like Faith and trust in the One who is working in and through our lives and the lives of others?

Think about the Hope’s of this world. She needs a place of trust and if we are not trusting then why would she want to come near? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church as we work through our faith journey together trusting in the One who knows us best.

Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?


Amen.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Out Goes Y,O,U....

May 28, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
Sermon Series:
 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
“Healing Division”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Psalm 66:8-20
Mark 9:38-50 MSG
1Corinthians 1:10-13a (TLB)
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (NLT)


“Out Goes Y.O.U.…”

The Lord be with you
And also with you
Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 9, verses 38-50. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

As Hope walked away, Joy did the only thing she knew to do…she went back to the diner to talk with her friends there. “I know that they meet tonight,” she thought, “I just hope they are not too mad at me.” As she walked down the street she thought about all that Hope had said. “How dare she call me prideful,” she thought, “a girl can’t be proud of her accomplishments and her church. Really. The nerve of some people.” Nope…Joy wasn’t joyful at all.

Joy was so consumed with her thoughts that she almost walked right into Grace, one of her study friends. “Whoa…slow down there Joy. What’s the matter? Why are you hurrying so?” asked Grace. “Oh Grace” Joy said,” I am so glad to see you. I need some help here. You know that person I went after during the study the other day?” Joy asked. “Yah…that was real cool how you went after her even though everyone else was making fun of her. I just kept quiet. I wish I had your courage.” Grace exclaimed. “Well…hold on to your hat…she had the nerve to call me prideful! Am I prideful Grace?”

Grace was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “well…truthfully…you are prideful. We all are. I have been trying to work on that in my life and I have gotten better. I have decided to give God all the glory. It is because of His grace…no pun intended…that I have anything in life. All am I owe to Him.” “Awe man” Joy cried… “She was right… Hope was right…I am prideful…I thought I was just being proud of who I am but that was what I was basing my life on…not on God and what He has done for me. Oh, my gosh…I gotta find Hope. I have to apologize.” “I’ll help you find Hope. I would like to make friends with her too.” Grace said.

As they rounded the corner together there before their eyes…like an answer from heaven, was Hope. She was sat on the bench of the bus stop just crying. “Hope I am sorry. You were right…I am prideful and I hurt your feelings and I am sorry.” Joy said as she sat down next to Hope. “I thought you were different. You seemed to be real nice…you actually came after me but then you acted just like the rest.” Hope cried.

 “Well we all make mistakes but it is what we do to fix them…or not fix them…is what matters,” Grace explained, “by the way, Hi, I am Grace. I am sorry about the other night with my “bible study group.” They can be such idiot’s sometimes.” “Hi Grace, I am Hope. What you said was right. I forgive you Joy. Can we start over?” “Sure, I would like that” Joy was so happy she almost couldn’t contain herself… “You know Hope…I really needed to hear what you had to say. I never realized how prideful I was. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” “Well you know…pride cometh before fall” Grace quoted. “Oh, you just had to say that didn’t you” Joy laughed. “Yup…sure did. Hey, can I hang with you guys. Those other nerds give me a headache” Grace asked. “Sure” Hope and Joy said simultaneously… “The three amigos” they all laughed.

The three went off arm in arm, laughing and getting to know each other better. No one could have known what was going to happen next. Would their new-found friendship stand the test it was in for?

Good morning. This morning can we continue to be interactive with each other as. I really have enjoyed the way we have conversed with one another over the past few weeks… so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is how Grace came in to help Joy and Hope give each other grace…

I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to heal what ails us in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back the land of our forefathers. Without healing what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrection people so we need to rise from the grave of the world around us. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

Today I want us to continue to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… On the 11th of June, my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. It is like a cancer that grows quicker and kills faster than any other disease that the church can catch. Why do you think division happens in the church as a whole? Now I am talking about the church in general…Christ’s body…give time to answer. Do you know that this whole breakup of the followers of The Way began back in Paul’s time? Listen to what he describes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9…I am reading from the NLT Bible:

1 Corinthians 3:1-9New Living Translation (NLT)
Paul and Apollos, Servants of Christ
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

They were fighting over who was following the “true Way” but they got it all wrong. They were not following what Christ began in Acts. They were following what their leader was teaching. How do I know this? They were fighting. If they were all following what Jesus did there would be no fighting at all. It was when they began to follow their rules that the problem began… and still exists… Paul called them immature in the faith…how are you and I being immature in the faith…would Paul admonish you and I in the same way?

You know…I made a mistake about when division began. It began in Jesus’ day…with His own disciples. They were all upset and wanted to stop those people who were doing good but were not part of their “group”. We are all one body of Christ. It is the denominational things that get in the way. We are all here to fulfill our purpose as Christ has called us not as man has called us. Which is pretty much what Jesus told His disciples…

What causes division in the church…the different parts of Christ’s body? Give time to answer… Ok… Now the hard question…what about our church…is there division and why? I told you this is was going to be a hard question…give time to answer…

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a, Paul begins his first letter to the church in Corinth… yup, more than 1 letter…addresses the fighting within the church itself. He talks about what happens when we begin to fight amongst ourselves. Listen to what Paul has to say on the subject…

1 Corinthians 1:10-13a Living Bible (TLB)
“10 But, dear brothers, I beg you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so that there won’t be splits in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some of those who live at Chloe’s house have told me of your arguments and quarrels, dear brothers. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul”; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. 13 And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces.”

The scripture is clear. We break Christ into pieces… How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel. I am just as guilty as the next…those times I may think that a denomination is wrong in how they do things. I am a firm believer of “The Way” … either you follow Christ or you don’t…that simple. But those times when I get angry about what others do and how they divide instead if work together…am I judging or lamenting that we don’t get along?

We need to bring our ailments…our division…into the light of Christ to be healed. Ok…visual time…you have this rock here…let’s call it humanity…and this other rock we will call God. Now humanity and God were once together but because of the sin of disobedience they were separated. We needed a bridge …(bring out the long rock)…so that the gap could be filled. That bridge is Jesus (put a rock on top of the bridge). Now there is a renewed relationship with God and humanity. The same principle works with God’s people. When we have division, we need to bring it to the light of Christ and in and through Christ the relationship can be healed and renewed…I may be making it sound simple but to me it really is that simple…if we all want to play along that is…

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But should we let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would she see a church divided or a church bonded in love? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?


Amen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pride Cometh Before


May 21, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Pride”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 66:8-20

Mark 9:30-37

Proverbs 16:18-19; Philippians 2:1-4; James 4:6-10





“Pride Cometh Before…”



The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)



Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 9, verses 30-37. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…



(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)



As Hope and Joy walked their way to Joy’s house, they began to talk with one another. This is really the first time they had since they met and they were both nervous, not wanting to offend the other. “So, Hope, where do you come from?” Joy asked. “Oh, from here, there and everywhere. We never settle into one place when I was a kid. Always moving around, never knowing where we would wind up next.” Hope answered. “Oh, that sounds like so much fun. My family is very rich and we always had to make plans when we went places. We never just went and just moved like you did. We went to places like Spain, Rome, China, we even went on a safari in Africa… It was fun but I think what you got to do was more adventurous.” Joy explained. “You must have enjoyed it very much.” “Not really” Hope explained, “We moved because my dad couldn’t hold a job so we had to keep moving. We would lose our home and had to find a new one when my dad got a new job.” “Oh wow, too bad.” Joy went on, “I had the perfect life, so to speak, I got to go anywhere and do anything I wanted to do. We always had a beautiful home and never went without eating like some people do… How about church? Do you go to church?” Joy asked. “Well I haven’t found a place yet that accepts…well me for me…” Hope answered.



Hope was starting to worry about her new-found friend. She seemed to be talking a lot about herself and how perfect her life was. But, Hope decided not to judge her friend…she had been on the wrong side of that equation too many times. Joy continued “Well you haven’t tried my church. It is perfect. We accept everyone. We have many ministries that reach out to those people on the street. We feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We have 3 services on Sunday, 1 on Wednesday, a prayer meeting on Thursday and…”



 Hope started to walk away… “where are you going” Joy asked. “Away from you” Hope answered, “You are too “perfect” for me. For the past 30 minutes, all I have heard about is what you have done and where you have been, how perfect your church is and all those “people” you reach out to on the streets… Guess what, I am one of those people and I think you talk a good talk but you are not walking the walk. You think that you do soooo much but what I need is someone who cares about me not for me…I can care for myself thank you very much.” Joy was appalled, “What do you mean all I do is talk about myself. I am very proud of who I am and my church and what we do. There is nothing wrong with that.” Joy said through tearful eyes. “Maybe you are a little too proud. So proud that you don’t even see the ones you claim you are trying to help. Maybe if you thought about where your gifts come from, where your security comes from…your real security and gifts come from…maybe you might just think and see differently…” Hope turned and continued to walk away…



Good morning. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we have been. It has been wonderful the past few weeks sharing as we have with teach other… I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Joy and what she was proud of. It is not bad to take pride in things but when you lose sight of where it all comes from we can tend to be “pride-full”.



As I have said, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to give our whole life over to Christ…everything that ails us…in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take hold of the land. If we don’t, then why do we even call ourselves Christ followers if we can’t follow His example in the world because of what is ailing us? If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have risen from the grave of the world around us. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …leaving those things behind that bind us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.



We are continuing to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart As I have said, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.



We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions …our good intentions…may be not so helpful. At times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have.



We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves. Jesus us is calling us to be “open” …our eyes our ears, our hearts, our hands…to those around us who may feel closed off from others.



Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…



Another thing that at times keeps us from being the light we are called to be is the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things…even making ourselves lord of others… We at times can think that…well to coin a phrase…our “poop don’t stink.” Being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. What are you proud of in your life? Give time to answer. I am proud of my daughters but do I believe they are perfect and above reproach? No, we are all broken and imperfect. I am proud of how God has made them who they are and that I got the chance to help God, with His leading, bring these girls up… I give God the praise for it all.



In the Mark scripture, we hear the problem of pride. The disciples were arguing over who was the greatest of them. Jesus waste no time in correcting them on their emphasis on self. He brought in a child…pretty lowly…nothing special…children were seen and not really heard back then. The farther was the one who spoke for the whole family. So why do you think He chose a child? Give time to answer… A child is the last rung on the ladder. Pride really got in their way and Jesus had to make sure they understood the ways of heaven verses the ways of man.



You can see pride…the sickness of pride that is…just about everywhere you look these days. My question is this, do you see pride in the church? In other words, do you think it has a problem with pride and why?  Give time to answer… Ok…how about the church here…our church…do you think it has a problem of pride…? Give time to answer... How about the people within…? Give time to answer.



What does god say about pride?

ü Proverbs 16:18-19-18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.19 Better poor and humble than proud and rich.

ü Philippians 2:1-4-Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? 2 Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose.

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

ü James 4:6-10-6 But he gives us more and more strength to stand against all such evil longings. As the Scripture says, God gives strength to the humble but sets himself against the proud and haughty.

7 So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. 9 Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you.



God’s word is clear about pride and what it can lead to. What do you think the cure is for this sickness that ails us? Give time to answer…



Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs of what ails us in to His Glorious Light and be healed. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But should we let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would we boast about our accomplishments of lift up God’s name and what He has done? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group…that people…that the Hope would hear about the goodness of God and what He blesses us with so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?



Amen.