It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel. Adrian Rogers
"Give me all of you!!! I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart." C>S> Lewis, Mere Christianity
This morning allow your holy imaginations to sweep you up the mountain of Transfiguration in Matthew's Gospel. We may experience an inkling of visionary mystery. but beware. if you try to understand this story with your mind, you will most certainly be disappointed. It is only if you try to see it with your soul, that you may find your heart strangely warmed. In this pivotal story in the gospels we are midway through the story - halfway between the birth and the death - teetering between the baptism and the resurrection. And as modern life, midpoint travelers we are still trying to find Jesus. Up until now this Jesus story hasn't been all that hard to imagine. We know about Jesus as a baby, as a teacher, as a preacher, as a moral example, even as a healer. Then we experience the mystery of God. All ofsudden the earthy Jesus with his dusty feet and tired eyes becomes the ethereal Jesus - robe glowing and face shining - a shimmering window into pure, unadulterated divinity. This isn't just a "thin place" where hints of the holy seep into the ordinary. This is a ripping of the barrier between God and us - and God comes flooding into our midst.
The Lost Son: This has been called the greatest short story in the world. It speaks about the deep effects of sin, the self-destruction of hatred and the infinite mercy of God. This is a story of love, of conflict, of deep heartbreak, and of ecstatic joy. The scene opens on a well-to-do Jewish family. With the immaturity of a spoiled brat the younger son demands impudently of his gracious father, "Give me the portion of goods that falls to me." Under Jewish law, when a father divided his property between two sons, the elder son had to receive two-thirds and the younger one-third (Dt 21:17). In Jesus' parable, the younger son sells out his share of the inheritance and then squanders the money in a faraway city. The land was sacred to the Jewish people because it was the Promised Land given to the Chosen People. Hence, each bit of land was considered holy, and no Israelite could lawfully sell his property. (Lev. 25:23, 1Kings 21). Ancient "social security" basically consisted in sons farming their father's land and taking care of their parents until their death. Thus in selling his land, the prodigal has sold his parent's social security
Have you ever decided to try something new, despite your own questions about how you'll succeed, and then the moment you share your new goal with someone they turn into a dream-stealer? They'll pepper you with questions like: "So how exactly are going to do that?" Unfortunately, some of those naysayers are people who are the closest to us. They have a great skill for putting more "How Hurdles" up on the track.
Don't let the naysayers top you! Take a moment to share your "why" with them and how it's going to look and feel for you to accomplish that goal. Invite them to support you by brainstorming how you could accomplish the goal. Share your commitment to doing whatever it will take to cross the finish line.
Luke 14: 7-14 Christ calls us to genuine humility
We need to practice humility in personal and social life: Humility is grounded in a psychological awareness that everything I have is a gift from God, and therefore, I have no reason to boast. I must not use these God-given gifts to elevate myself above others. hence, humility means the proper understanding of our own worth. The humility that the Gospel urges upon us has nothing to do with a self-deprecation that leaves a person without proper self-esteem. we must simply admit the truth about ourselves: we do not know everything, we do not do everything correctly and we are all imperfect and sinners. Nevertheless, we also recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we are called to help build the kingdom of God with our God-given gifts. We are not of value because of those gifts but because we are loved by God as His children, redeemed by the precious blood of his son Jesus. The quality of humility that Jesus is talking about has a sociological dimension too. For Jesus is inviting us to associate with the so-called "lower classes" of society-even the outcasts. Jesus invites us to change our social patterns in such a way that we connect with the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, and the impoverished - the "street people" of the world - with agape love.
What do we mean when we reflect on worship? King David's definition says, "Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." Psalms 34:3. Worship is the act of magnifying God. Enlarging our vision of Him. Stepping into the command center of the universe to see where He sits and observe how He works. Of course, His size doesn't change, but our perception of Him does. As we draw nearer, God seems larger. Isn't that what we need? A big view of God? Don't we have big problems, big worries, big questions? Of course we do. Hence we need a big view of God. Worship offers that. how can we sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy" and not have our vision expanded?
Luke 12: 22-40Do Not Worry
Be watchful servants: Steven Anthony "Steve" Ballmer (born March 24,1956) has been chief executive officer of Microsoft Corporation since January 2000. He was one of the richest people in the world with a personal wealth estimated at US$14.5 billion in 2010.. He is Bill Gates' hand-picked successor. In 2004, he was seen crawling on the floor of the General Motors' executive conference room, trying to fix a connection that would enable him to make a pitch to GM engineers. The image of Microsoft CEO on his hands and knees to please some customers made such an impression on the author Steve Hamm that he wrote a whole article based on this one incident. [Steve Hamm, "Why High Tech Has to Stay Humble," Business Week (19 January 2004), pp76-77] Corporate executives will get on their hands and knees to show customers how much they care. In today's Gospel Jesus warns his followers to be ever prepared by doing the will of God always in their lives, as the time of their death is uncertain.
I choose JOY!
I will invite my god to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
The message from Christ today is that the greedy acquisition of wealth and power is futile, because everything and everyone is "here today and gone tomorrow." So the meaning of life cannot be found in selfishly hoarding wealth and possessions, but only in sharing these with the needy. This man thought he would not die soon and that he was not accountable for his riches. He forgot that his wealth was lent to him by God.
Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world need such men, women boys and girls, and so does the Church. How would the Church survive if not for the Mathas and Bills who sing in the choir, work on committees, work with children, work with the youth, and build the Church? The Church could not ,exist without them. The same is true with the family. We need responsible people to do the work in the house: to cook, to clean, to keep the house operating, to the bills, to keep the cars running, not to speak of rearing the children and loving the spouse. Households can't survive without Mathas and Bills. Nor can offices, schools or businesses. There is nothing wrong with being a responsible, action-oriented, get-it-*done kind of person. But we must find the time to listen to God speaking to us through His word and time to talk to God. Jesus clearly said: be hearers and doers of the word. Jesus never reversed that order.
Prayer as Jesus taught it: Should have Adoration. A time when we allow God to be God. Try centering your thoughts on God and not upon yourself. It is not a hall of mirrors but a true upper room with Christ.
It should be followed by Confession. A time when we are honest with God about the ways we have lived today and yesterday. We humbly ask for forgiveness. Amazingly the answer is "You are forgiven!"
Next you should come to Thanksgiving. A time for expressing gratitude for the many gift of God's love. Count your blessings! I am always surprised how freeing this becomes.
Last spend some time with Supplication. Offer your concerns and requests to God. As you pray energy is released to encourage the things you are praying for to occur.
Attitudes and Actions
- Wake Up - Begin the day with the lord. It is His day, rejoice in it.
- Dress Up - Put on a smile. It improves your looks and attitudes
- Shut Up - Watch your tongue. Don't gossip. Learn to listen.
- Stand Up - Resist evil. Do good.
- Look Up - Open your eyes to the Lord. He is our Savior.
- Reach Up - Spend time in prayer.
- Lift Up - Care for others and give grace in life.
God calls us to the way of Jesus. We must begin to practice the presence of God by act of imaginative faith. We must let our mind and heart accept the idea that God is present, that His life is sweeping through our own, that He is interested and concerned and even involved in all that we do and say and think. This requires a leap of faith. Then we realize that God is present in every circumstance of life, speaking to us in the beauty and humor and sadness of human life and challenging us to "keep the faith, run the race, and fight the good fight."
I believe that it is the purpose of God to bring every life into harmony with His will and purpose. For this mighty purpose Christ came to earth. In the glorious enterprise, God's love, the Hound of Heaven is always on His unceasing quest; baffled here, evaded there, hidden from in this compromise, hindered by that delay, frustrated by that unclean lust, shut out by our sins, but never, never put off the scent, and destined to at last track us down, even if that long pursuit continues after death. But the moment we let ourselves be found though painful, with all the pains of self-discover, is really the happiest moment of our live.
Luke 8: 26-39 Jesus and the Oppressed Man of Gadara
I still find it hard to believe, yet I saw it in a magazine article, and the article was written by an expert. A young man who dives for exotic fish for aquariums said that one of the most popular aquarium fish is the shark. He explained that is you catch a small shark and confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. If you keep them in a small aquarium, sharks can be six inches long yet fully mature.
Now as unbelievable as that sounds, that became more believable to me as I reflected on people. I've seen people become little because they lived with little ideas and midget moral convictions. I know people who have become little because they associated only with people who had their same high brow rigid notions and never entertained a liberal thought. I've seen people who were so narrow that they were flat. People, like sharks, adjust themselves to the size of their environment.
1 Kings 21A Hard Payday
He, like Shakespeare's Macbeth, succumbed to the machinations of a villainous wife. Ahab knew better, but allowed himself not to know the truth of Naboth's demise. He pretended not to know, knowing full well that his wife had malevolently planned the debacle from start to finish. We thank God for the saints of justice, undaunted and bold, who come forth and speak the truth on behalf of the innocent. They are unafraid of the repercussions of power, but possess the strength and resolve to be advocates for human justice. Such persons put their lives on the line for love, truth and freedom. They know the hazards of the undertaking, but they speak for God and claim his promises for victory. They are men and women who do not shirk the awesome task of exacting justice and speaking truth to the powerful. Elijah was courageous in his confrontation of King Ahab. He prophesied that Ahab, too, would meet an awful end for his evil deeds.
1 Kings 18 God is King
The story in 1 Kings of the death of God's enemies is striking.
Sometimes we must say God is not kind. We ask Him to be, but in a true sense His relationship with us is bigger and grander and closer. He loves us because he wants to bring us into communion with Himself and he knows that we cannot be really deeply and completely happy until we have been brought into communion with Him. Whereas if he is merely kind we shall make happiness our goal and be content with something less than the best, with something less than we may yet become, something less than God can make us, and when we ask God to be kind to us that we may be happy, we are asking for less love, not more. Our true happiness is a byproduct of our quest for blessedness, and blessedness is the complete identity of our will with God's will.
Snakes and Butterflies
"One marvel that never ceases to bring back all my boyhood sense of wonder is the dried skin of a snake. I suppose I have seen hundreds of them, but I never see one without wanting to pause and reflect on the wonder of a creation that can give an ordinary, slithery snake a new skin, a couple of sizes larger, when his old skin gets too tight for him. What a miracle! And of course, for the snake, getting a new skin means getting a whole new life. I like to think about it from the snake's point of view. Here he is. His skin it getting too tight. He can't get around like he should. He can't hunt like he used to. He is frustrated and literally "uptight". Then wonder of wonders, a power he does not understand, a force beyond his wildest dreams and hopes, gentle but forceful, helps him slip out of the skin that held him back and hampered his actions and frustrated his hopes. And he finds himself set free, a new creature,"
Wild Rivers and Mountain Trail by Don Ian Smith
Switchbacks in Life
"Like a plane circling to gain altitude, or a ship tacking against the wind, we find our goals in life are reached by a series of long and sometimes very difficult switchbacks. Sometimes we think of them as setbacks.
Acts moves us to see that God was bringing the evangelism to the world. Pentecost seems to be involved in a few ingredients of the Holy.
The power of God, the presence of the Holy spirit and the personal witness of the disciples to this divine mission. There were not a lot of "artificial" ingredients present at Pentecost. There were no church authorities. There were no "rules of order". There were no high jumps through hierarchies. There were no passels of paperwork, committee meetings, nor great communications by social media.
There was only the sudden swoosh of the Holy Spirit. Long promises it was, yet still unexpected and unscripted when it arrived. In fact the multitude of languages the spirit chose for its first message meant that any pre-conceived, processed "script" was tossed out. The spirit came as it always comes: on a wing and a prayer.
So why has the church that grew out of this amazing moment, out of Spirit-breathed respiration and inspiration, become so wedded to an "extra ingredients" list instead of celebrating the power of God? Our mantra becomes "trust the process" rather than "trust the Spirit". Trust the program. Trust the plan. Trust the formula. Or. Trust the Spirit.
Zechariah 4:6 reads "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit", says the Lord.
"For me, the Christian belief in eternal life is very much like high mountains in the distance. In a sense they are quite remote from my everyday life. Most of my daily work is done without direct reference to the distant peaks. My concern is with the here and now: it must be, as I try to earn a living for my family, make my contributions as a good citizen involved in the struggles and needs of this world. Mine is a worldly religion. God loved the world so much that he sent His Son into it; if God could love the world this much, certainly I should love it too."
Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails by Don Ian Smith
Despite this man's fixed focus on his own inabilities, Jesus offers to him his own miraculous abilities. He commands the man to "Stand up, take your mat and walk" (V.8). as one who was ill and invalid, the man could not have successfully accomplished any one of those three directives. He could not stand. He could not roll up and hoist his mat. He could not walk.
But the power and authority in Jesus' voice (echoing the directives given in 0Matthew 2:11) emboldens this man to attempt that was which formerly impossible. When he tries the impossible, the man is instantaneously "made well" and he feels that wellness as he "rises" to the occasion. He not only stand and walks, he obediently rolls up his mat, his place of confinement for the past thirty-eight years, and takes it away on his own shoulders. What do you so when he calls you to do the impossible?