We learn as we go …

Seth Godin:

We learn as we go. If we stop going, we stop learning…

and

If we’re not willing to keep learning, we should probably stop going.

 

Jesus, in Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

 

Samuel Beckett, play, Waiting for Godot, the ending:

(Silence.)

ESTRAGON: Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR: Yes, let’s go.

(Stage direction: They do not move.)

Curtain

 

Quiz:

Are you going?

Where are you going?

Are you learning?

In many churches, there is a lot of “going” that doesn’t result in disciples. We need to learn what sort of going makes disciples.
In many churches, there is lot of learning, sometimes even about discipleship, that doesn’t involve going. We need to learn how to go and make disciples.

As T4T puts it, there are two kinds of people in this world:
1. People who need to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
2. Disciples who need to become disciple makers.
Both stages require going and learning, but there’s a lot of confusion about what and how.

SOURCES:

Seth Godin, We learn as we go, blog, https://seths.blog/2018/09/we-learn-as-we-go/

About Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot

Photo by SilverTD entitled Waiting for Godot from  https://www.flickr.com/photos/36589940@N04/27109203261

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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QNQS TEMPLATE (SeeAllThePeople)

QUOTE AND NOTE TEMPLATE SeeAllThePeople
Title
QUOTE

[1]

NOTE

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES:

Footnotes:
[1] This is an anchor post intended to start a conversation with a quote from Developing a Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations by Junius B. Dotson; from https://www.seeallthepeople.org/resources-downloads/

[1] This is an anchor post intended to start a conversation with a quote from Engaging Your Community: A Guide to Seeing All the People by Junius B. Dotson; from https://www.seeallthepeople.org/resources-downloads/

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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QUOTE AND NOTE TEMPLATE

QUOTE AND NOTE TEMPLATE
Title
QUOTE

[1]

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
[1]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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Transcription details: Audio 07 29 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 07 29 2018.mp3

Date:   01-Aug-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 07 29 2018.mp3

 

Transcription results:

 

in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, we are familiar with that road sign that says, “Stop,” but almost every other road sign says something different. We’re beginning a series where, in Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus begins to tell us what’s expected if you want to be a disciple, if you want to follow him. He uses these words, “The way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it.” You know why that’s true?  Because you have to look for it. Because you have to get up and seek it. You have to get up and walk those steps and quite often– it’s not that the Christian life is so hard, but it is uphill. So often the fact that it requires some effort on our parts makes it too hard for some people. But in following Jesus, He sets the bar a little higher than what we’re used to and he says, “You can do it. Come and follow Me.” And there are parts in following Jesus that will require some effort from us. But it is a journey to follow Jesus. And when we follow Jesus, we need to pay attention to the road signs. Now, almost all the road signs you see encourage us to slow down. Children have two speeds; too fast and too slow. But the fact is all of us, we have the same problem. Sometimes you’re going too fast. Sometimes you’re going too slow. This sign says, “Watch what you’re doing. Be careful. Go slow.” Somebody tell me what this sign tells us is the reason we have to go slow. What is it?

[inaudible].

There’s children on their way to school. It’s a crosswalk. And how about this one? There’s a curvy road. You ever find yourself going too fast around a curve? It’ll teach you to slow down. How about this one? If you’re driving on loose gravel, did you every kind of stop really fast on a gravel road? It’s not exactly like ice, but sometimes you can slide and lose your ability to steer. When you see this sign, you have to slow down. Don’t stop moving, but slow down and be cautious. This sign, too. sometimes when it rains, the road gets a little slick. You have to drive carefully because this sign says that the road is slippery when it’s wet. Sometimes you have to be prepared to stop because there’s people who are working on the road. Their safety is very important. Now there’s road signs you don’t see quite as often. This is one they have up in Alaska [laughter]. You don’t want to leave your windows open because there are mosquitos that are big enough to carry a grown human being away. Also, you’ll see this one in the mountains of Wisconsin where they have a have a problem with falling cows [laughter]. You just need to slow down and be cautious. You can move forward, but you have to be careful. But sometimes there’s another sign like this one. It says, “Road closed.” What that means is don’t go there. Friends, one of the most hazardous conditions literally deadly is for you to walk into, or drive into, running water. You don’t want to go there. It’ll lift you off your feet, it’ll lift your car up off the ground and before you know it, your life can be over. Never drive into water that’s over the road, unless you know it might be just an inch deep. But even a few inches deep can be very dangerous. This sign says that road is closed and you’d better not be on it. And there are times when Jesus says, “You want to follow me? Don’t go down that road, that’s not for you.” And He’s not down that road either. Don’t go there. But you know what happens when we, human beings, see a sign like that? We think it’s for somebody else. We think, if we’re careful, we’re going to be just fine. Sometimes we just want to go down there and look, and see what it is. But sometimes the road is closed and that means don’t go there. Now, here’s why this is important. Matthew 7:1, here’s what Jesus says – very first verse in the chapter – “Judge not.” Why? “That you not be judged.” Verse 2. “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” And the reason Jesus says this is that we are not to go there. But if you Google this verse and look on the internet, you will find article after article, after article, that explains that that’s not what this means. That Christians have to learn how to judge. We just need to learn how to judge properly, we just need to learn the right way to judge. Because we always have to know the difference between right and wrong, although that’s not what this refers to. This refers to the difference between a bad person and a good person. Because there’s a terrible temptation for us to want to tell people that they are bad. How many of you love to watch these judge shows, like Judge Judy? You just love it when Judge Judy puts the hammer down on somebody. You know why? What makes that show popular is we love to look down on stupid people [laughter]. Come on, it’s human. And a lot of the talk shows, Maury Povich and all these other ones– we love to look down on people, and it’s just like a festival of judging people. And Jesus says, “Don’t do that.” And on the internet, and everywhere, you will find all kinds of reasons why– no. It’s okay to do that if you do it in the right way. No. No. No. No. No.

I’d like to tell you, my parents smoked. My parents smoked, a lot. Every little bit of furniture my parents owned had these little black marks on the edge of it where they would set their cigarettes, just like this, and forget about them, and then it would burn right into the furniture. Every time I see furniture with a burn mark on it, like that, it makes me feel nostalgic [laughter]. Because my parents smoked and I don’t, my brother doesn’t we never could figure that out. My uncle, none of his kids– he doesn’t smoke and all four of his kids do. We don’t understand it. But the reason I put this cigarette up there is because there are people who don’t smoke– because this is the key when it comes to judging someone, there are people who don’t smoke. And because they don’t, they feel that they’re free to judge someone who does as if they didn’t do anything. You understand? That’s bad. And I know it’s bad because it’s not my problem. Well, friends, if it’s not your problem, that’s wonderful. But if it’s not your problem, then you don’t know what it is to struggle with it. If it’s not your problem, you don’t know what it is to give into it. Because it’s easy for us to judge someone when we don’t do the thing that we’re looking down on. Why? Because it makes us feel superior. That’s the human weakness. It makes us feel superior. Now, I do want to tell you, stack three Oreos right there where that cigarette is, and I got a real problem, or something else. But here is one of the major realities of judging. Most of the time people judge someone else because they do something that that person doesn’t struggle with. But if you bring up the thing they struggle with, ooh, they don’t like that at all. Everybody’s got something that’s not quite perfect. So judge not.

Second thing, with the Pharisees, the reason they got into being judgmental is they wanted to measure themselves against other people. With the Pharisees, the judgement was all about, if I’m better than you, then God must love me more than you. Well, here’s the deal. The fact that you can find someone who’s better than you does not mean that you’re better. It doesn’t matter how rotten you are, you can find someone who’s worse. I guarantee you. But the other reason we shouldn’t judge is when we start comparing ourselves to other people, it makes us feel superior when we should not be feeling superior. If we compare ourselves to Jesus, we’ll be on the right road. But to compare ourselves against someone else, that doesn’t mean at all that we’re better. But that’s part of the temptation. And here’s another part of the temptation. The reason that you shouldn’t judge other people is you’re not qualified. You may be good, but you’re not that good. You are not qualified to judge other people. Now let’s see how Jesus explains that. Here’s what Jesus says, “Why do you,” and it’s plural there, “you all,” this is all human beings. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Now I’d like to imagine just for a minute that Jesus is telling a joke, because I’m not too sure that this isn’t a joke. Now, this is not a log. It’s just a pen. If you want to pretend that it’s a pencil, then it would be a stick. Now let’s imagine what Jesus says. Larry Hebron, I think you have a speck in your eye. Let me get a really close look. And the person [inaudible] will say, “Wow, that hurts.” And then I can say, “Well that’s because you have a speck in your eye.” If you have a stick coming out of your eye, how can you get a good look at someone else without hurting them more? Why do you all see the speck that is in your [all?] brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Verse 4, how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye when there’s a log in your eye.” And like the cartoon says, whenever you’re pointing the finger at someone else, all that means is the log in your eye is bigger. But, ironically, this isn’t what Jesus said. When you look at it in the Greek, the Greek word is a little different. The Greek word for log, dakos, literally means a beam. It literally means a joist or a rafter. If you have a bedroom at home that is 12 feet wide, across the ceiling there are these boards that are 12 feet long. There is a 12-foot log piece of wood coming out of you. You can’t see a thing to honestly tell someone else about a speck that’s in their eye. You can’t see a thing. Jesus says, “You hypocrites. First take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” And here’s the reality about taking the logs out of your own eye. It will take you a while. It will require some work. By the time you get the log out of your own eye, by the time you’ve solved your problems, you probably will know a lot about helping somebody because you will have learned on yourself. Take the beam, the joist, the rafter out of your own eye first. That’ll teach you how to help someone else if is you fix the problem in your own life first.

The next verse might be a little hard to understand. It says, “Do not give dogs what is holy.” Here’s the problem if you start going around telling everybody what’s wrong with them. Sooner or later, you’re going to tell someone who will get really angry. You know it’s true. There is no reason why you, if you are aware of right and wrong, need to be victimized by someone who’s like a raging dog when you point out what they need to change about their own life. You should not be pointing that out until they’re ready, and what that means is until God tells you that it’s your job to explain to this person what’s wrong. And, friends, most of the time that we think it’s our job to explain that, just remember– I turned my thing off– just remember the previous verse doesn’t happen very often. But if you go around telling people what’s wrong with them, some of them will bite you. And if you go around throwing your pearls to pigs it’s not going to do any good. They’re going to ignore even the best advice you would give them. Not only that, they might trample the pearls underfoot and turn to attack you. So you’re better off not doing that. Don’t go there. Don’t go down that road. Now, let’s give ourselves a few tests. The reason that you’re not qualified is because inside of you, there is a lot of anger. Now, there are a few people in this room, they have very little anger in their life. That’s quite wonderful. But there’s a whole lot of people, we have been treated poorly. We have been done wrong. And we have put that down inside of ourselves. And so way down deep inside, there’s a whole lot of anger. And you remember Judge Judy? Whenever you bump into somebody who’s done to someone else what somebody once did to you, all of a sudden all that anger comes up and you want to hurt them.

Now, one of the most wonderful things that we have in our lives these days, if you’re on Facebook, is there’s a thing called clickbait. And what clickbait is is literally there are people who make thousands and thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars by making you angry. Because they post something up on the Facebook screen that makes you furious and you click on it and you give it attention and that lets them get money from advertisers. They make their money by telling you lies to get you angry. What they do is they hook your anger and you fall for this trap and you click on their thing. Well, you see, if you’re someone who does that, friends, me too. I’ve gotten better over the years at knowing when I’m being fooled, but it’s still my problem. Here’s how I know I’m being tricked. Whenever I feel myself getting more and more furious, the more I have to admit somebody’s probably pulling my leg. Somebody’s probably lying to me or I would not be so angry.

Whenever you feel the anger sweeping you away like that stream at [inaudible] Road, trust yourself to know that the thing that’s making you angry is probably not true. And if you take just a second to Google it, all of a sudden, 25 things will pop up telling you it’s not true. And they’ll be surrounded by hundreds of things telling you that it is true, but it’ll be by people. Not news organizations or newspapers or experts you can trust. But if your anger was always under control, then maybe you could judge. Maybe you could be a judge. But frankly, unless your anger is under control, you can’t be fair. That’s’ why you’re not qualified to be someone’s judge.

Here’s the next reason. Jesus said it, “You have a beam coming out of your eye. You can’t clearly see the problem.” And because you can’t clearly see the problem, and because you don’t always know when you can’t see, because you have blinders that are over your eyes. You’re not qualified to judge. You will only be qualified if you can hear both sides if you could see clearly what was wrong. And friends, human beings like us, most of the time, we don’t see clearly. You can pray. You can ask God to forgive you [inaudible] you of someone else’s problems, but most of the time, since you can’t see clearly, you’re not qualified to be someone’s [inaudible].

Finally, the great commandment says, “We’re to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I think we would all agree that it’s rather foolish to judge and criticize God. Most of us, when we hear the scripture, we understand what Jesus is saying. “Oh, I need to not judge this other person. I need to not be critical of another person.” Well, you are supposed to love your neighbor as yourself, but here’s something to think about, are you harsh and critical to yourself? The commandment says that, “You’re to love yourself as you love your neighbor.” Do you judge yourself? Churches are full of people who are kind to everyone in the world except themselves. If that’s you, remember, you need to not be judging yourself anymore. You need to not judge yourself. You need to not see all the flaws, be filled with criticism, blame yourself for every problem. What you need to do is turn to Jesus for help with all of it because, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t know anyone who might be harsh and cruel and unforgiving to themselves has ever become a better person. Turn to Jesus with everything [inaudible]. You need to learn how to love yourself.

Finally, judge not for this reason: Jesus wants us to follow him. Jesus wants us on a safe road, and it’s not always an easy road, but it is a safe road. And the only safe road is one where we are like Jesus because what Jesus wants from the people who follow him is that they would show mercy, not judgment. Remember, Jesus, who sat on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know what not they do.” [inaudible] on what to tell you, it’s a good thing that you do not have the power of a heavenly judge. It is a good thing that you and I are not powerful like God. In fact, I will tell you for myself, if I had God’s power to judge, I want to be very honest, the population of the world would be cut in half. There would be dead bodies everywhere because I am sick and tired of that person, and I am sick and tired of these people. And before you know it, my anger would rise up and I would kill the people that God wants to forgive. I am not qualified to be anyone’s judge, nor are [inaudible].

And here’s the thing Jesus says to warn people who are attempted by judgment, “As harsh as you are to someone else, that’s how God’s going to treat you. As cruel as you are when you treat someone else, that’s how God’s going to treat you. As judgmental as you are when you preach a sermon, when you talk with someone, that’s how God’s going to treat you.” So you have to ask yourself this question, do you think Jesus was kidding? It would be a dangerous thing for us not to listen to Jesus when he says, “Don’t go down this road.” Why? Because it’s dangerous for you to think that you’re better than anyone else. Don’t go there. Just don’t go there. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are all so human, but you ask us to be more like you. Help us, Lord, to listen. Help us not to lose ourselves in comparing ourselves to others and finding fault with them. Help us, Lord, to look to you and leave behind our faults. Help us, Lord, to encourage others to look to you so that they can leave behind their faults. Help us, Lord, to understand that nobody ever left behind their faults because somebody was critical of them. Help us, Lord, to be more like you. Amen.

The grace that we experience

 

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Transcription details: Audio 07 22 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 07 22 2018.mp3

Date:   23-Jul-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 07 22 2018.mp3

 

Transcription results:

 

[silence]

One of the things that Kim and I have learned the hard way since coming to Kinmundy is that if we’re having some kind of difficulty, if there’s some kind of problem, if we’re arguing with each other, there will come a point in time that, all the sudden, we will stop and we will say, “What’s the sermon about this week?” Because, invariably, God drops something on me the week before Sunday that makes the point for this week. She doesn’t even know what this is because it happened Friday night. Friday afternoon, I left the house and I was on my way to Highland, Illinois for a meeting of the executive committee of the [inaudible] board. Stopped in at the county market in Vandalia, bought a 12-pack of diet soda. I was astonished, it was the only thing they had on sale [laughter]. I drove from there all the way to Highland and we had our meeting, and at about 8:30, I stood up, and it was time to go, and I did what we men always do, I did the pat; phone, keys, pen, wallet. And there was nothing in my back pocket. Has this ever happened to you? There was nothing in my back pocket. Now, I want to tell you that I am thankful that God did not give things like this legs to walk away or to hide, but I knew it wasn’t in my pocket. And God does things to humble creatures.

I told my friends so we walked all over their house, and my good friend actually got down on his hands and knees and reached under the seat of my car, looked all over. I was so embarrassed. And I thought to myself, “What could I have done?” So I’m driving back to the county market because I know I had it at the county market. And all these thoughts are going through my head because I’m making contingency plans, “I need to call the credit card companies. Do I have those phone numbers? I don’t know if I have those phone numbers. How’m I going to get a new driver’s license? How will I prove who I am when everything that proves who I am is in the wallet and I don’t have it? Maybe I’m lucky and somebody will just take the money out of it and throw it in the grass. So I probably ought to walk all around the grass near the parking lot.” And all of the sudden, I remembered this sermon today and I remembered that I do the same thing when I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m worried– my brain starts making all kinds of contingency plans, “Well, he’ll say that, and then I’ll say this, and then he’ll say that, and then the judge will rule that I’m right and he’s wrong.” And your brain makes all these plans when really no plans are needed. So I calmed myself. I reminded myself that I had bought a 12-pack of soda pop. The last time I had it and I did not get out of the car from leaving that grocery store all the way to Highland. So it was probably left at the grocery store. So I called them, “Anybody turned in a lost wallet?” “Nope.” I said, “I went to the restroom. I wonder if it might be there?” “Nobody’s turned it in. We don’t know anything about a lost wallet.” So finally, I got to County Market three-and-a-half hours after I had been there before, walked to the cash register where I bought the soda pop and it wasn’t there. Walked into the restroom and there it sat right on top of the toilet paper dispenser [laughter], just right like that. I opened it up, all the money was still in it. Now, here’s the question, was that a miracle [laughter]? I would like to think so, but I have no awareness of an angel standing at the door of the bathroom trying to keep men from coming in. It just must be that dull of a place, but if you want to see it as a miracle you can. But what occurred to me was that God knew where it was, but I didn’t. And all I had to do was to be patient and then I would find out where it was too, even if it was missing. But there it sat for three-and-a-half hours, and apparently, no one had bothered to be in there during that entire time.

So what you do is you pick it and you say, “Lord, thank you for my wallet.” And you say, “Thank you for the blessing.” Because, see, here’s the thing about what you worry about and what I worry about and what anyone worries about, 99.9% of all the things you worry about will never happen, and therefore it is a total waste of time for you to stay up all night and worry about what you would if they would happen unless you feel that God wants you to make your plans. But I guarantee 99% of the things that scare you to death have never happened because God is watching over me, and He’s not just watching over me, He’s watching over all of us. Now, that doesn’t mean that bad things don’t mean. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad people. And that doesn’t mean that sometimes the things that we’re afraid of do happen. But it means that we can encourage ourselves with hope. It may be raining right now, but I pretty much guarantee you, there is a time when it will stop. God knows when it will stop, and if we’re patient, we’ll see things begin to turn. So I was in trouble Friday night, but God knew how it was going to turn out, and I did not need to worry. I just needed to get back to that grocery store and find out, but worrying would not have helped me a bit. Here’s the scripture; Matthew: 6 25. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. Just do not. That’s the command. Do not be anxious about your life. What you shall eat, what you shall drink, all those things we worry about, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is thou life more than food and body? More than clothing? This is a command. When you’re tempted to be anxious or worried, Jesus commands, look at nature. Look at the birds in the air. They neither sow, nor reap, nor gather in the barns, yet your heavenly Father provides. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Now, that doesn’t mean that the bird sits in the nest and the pizza guy delivers food. They have to get up and do their part. They have to get up and work. They have to go find it. But God provides. And then Jesus says, “Are you of not more value than they?” Look at nature when you’re tempted to worry and it will remind you that God created a world that is good. Verse 27. And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit– now a cubit is how Noah measured the Ark. It’s the distance between your longest finger and your elbow. That’s why you don’t want five different people working on a project. Which of you, Jesus said, by being anxious can add one cubit or one add-on to its span of life? In fact, if you were, you’ll decrease not just the quality of your life, but the length of your life. Verse 28. And why are you anxious about clothing? Well, most of us are not teenagers now, but you know how teenagers get anxious about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field. Now, that’s a command again. Consider, it means examine. It means observe. Observe nature. The lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. When you observe nature, it will remind you that God is watching over us. So verse 30. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O man of little faith? Therefore – verse 31. This is a command – do not be anxious. Do not be anxious saying, “What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?” Verse 32. For all the non-spiritual people, all the Gentiles, all the people who have never heard of God who have no idea who Jesus Christ is, all of those people, they seek all of these things continuously. Worry about them constantly. But there’s something that you can count on. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. I was [seeking?] and anxious about my wallet, but my elderly father already knew where it was. He knew something I did not know. That happens all the time so, here’s the point. But, seek first. Make a high priority. Seek first His kingdom, the way the world would be if Jesus Christ was king, the way your life would be if Jesus Christ was king. And seek his righteousness, and this word, it means wholeness, and it means repair, and it means fixed the way God would make us whole. Seek that wholeness, that spiritual health. If you seek that, all these things you worry about, that will be yours as well. Now, that’s a promise. And it’s a promise and it’s a wish we can invest our hope. But it’s not the only promise. Jesus goes on to say, verse 34, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

So, let me make a point about anxiety. And to some degree, this point is also true of depression, it is of the non-clinical kind. You have enough to deal with today. What is on your plate today may be all that you can deal with. What makes life difficult is when we pile onto today everything we’re worried about for tomorrow. What makes life difficult is when we pile onto today every failure and fear that we’ve had for the past that we feel bad about. If you could let go of the past and if you can trust God for the future because He knows what we’ve done, most likely you will find that what you have to deal with now, you can do. Because the trouble you have to deal with today is enough for today. And you can trust God that when tomorrow becomes today, He’ll be ready to help you with tomorrow when it is today.

This is not the only place in the Bible where this is talked about. But the main point is to stop making endless contingency plans for what may happen, to turn our anxiety loose, to try to imagine what could go wrong and how we will fix it. Because it’s like putting wood on a fire. It just makes the fire hotter and burn longer. Jeremiah 29:11, if you read the Book of Jeremiah, all the way through the Book of Jeremiah, he is filled with warnings for the people of Jerusalem, warnings that again and again that they’re going to be punished, that they’re going to be attacked, that they’re going to be conquered. But even in the midst of all of these warnings, which are the results of their turning away from God, there comes this 11th verse. “‘I know the plans I have made for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” If today is a difficult day, God wants to remind you that you have a future and a hope. And here’s my favorite example of this. “Jesus takes the disciple  three of them up on top of the hill. And he’s transfigured. And they see him as he is. And as he’s coming downhill, there’s this little trouble down there. The nine disciples at the bottom of the hill, a man has come up and asked them to pray for his son. And their prayers are not answered. So Jesus comes up to see what he can do. And the man is describing a problem. Mark 9:22, it says that this young man’s problem has often cast him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. And then come these words that you see here in red. “But Jesus, If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” This is a man who’s at his last [inaudible], hanging on for dear life. And here’s what Jesus says to him, “If you can, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the fires of [inaudible] cried out and said, “I believe. Help my disbelief.” That has profoundly changed the way I look at things. Because in the morning, I sit in my prayer chair with my giant mug of coffee. And I remind myself, “Lord, I believe. Help my own belief.” Because what I believe is this. No matter what the situation is today, God knows what I do not. God is strong where I am weak. God is clear wherever I’m confused. God knows how he will help me even if I feel discouraged. And the decision to have belief is the belief that God is not caught by surprise. When a man leaves his wallet in a restaurant, to believe that God knows the diagnosis before you even go to the doctor, to believe that God is greater than what we fear in our anxious [inaudible]. And that’s the prayer I pray every morning when it’s terrible, “I believe. Help my own belief. Lord, help me to adjust the way I see things, to understand that what is happening around me is a part of your plan.” And that helps me with my anxiety because the promise is this: everyone who seeks, finds. Everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who knocks, a door is opened. So if I seek first God’s will, God’s way, God’s kingdom, God’s holiness, and God’s hell. If I sit back first, everything that I would worry about will also be mine, whether it’s a lost wallet or a lost soul, or whatever it might be the concern. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to look up from our worries. Help us to apply the medicine of hope to our troubles. Help us, Lord, to believe in You. And to believe that we live in a world that You have created such that nothing comes as a surprise to You. But as it says in Romans 8:28, You are already working for the good in every human situation. We ask You to give us that change of mind in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. And here’s a hymn that says exactly that. Let’s stand and sing

 

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Transcription details: Audio 07 15 2018 (1).mp3

Transcription details: Audio 07 15 2018 (1).mp3

Date:   15-Jul-2018

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is the wrong road. Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man. He called his three closest friends and he said to them, “I’ve decided that I’m going to take it with me. People tell you you can’t take your wealth with you. I’ve decided I’m going to take it with me.” And he pointed to three packages. “All of my fortune is divided up into those three packages. I want to ask each one of you to take one and when you come to my funeral, at the very end before they shut the casket, I want you to come up and pretend that you’re overcome with grief. And just before they shut the door, each of you put a package in my casket because I’m going to take it with me.” Well, the time came for the funeral and the three men came forward just as they’d been asked. And they couldn’t help but look at the package in the other man’s hands because it looked a little smaller than it did before. In fact, one man just had an envelope. After the funeral, they got together and they looked at each other and one of them said, “You know, I really want to be honest with you fellows. We’ve been friends for years. As the pastor of the church, church needs a new fellowship hall and I hate to tell you this, but I took some of the money out of that package to help the church pay for the fellowship hall.”

The next fellow said, “Well you know, as the doctor, medical equipment’s very expensive. We needed a new machine for the office and it was going to save lives. And it was the right thing to do. So I took some of the money out of the package and I bought a new machine for the doctor’s office.” And the other man, businessman, said, “I am shocked at the lack of moral character that you two are showing us.” And they looked at him and they said, “You only put in an envelope.” He said, “Yes. But in the envelope was a check for the full amount [laughter].” Here’s the problem. Your bank does not have a branch in heaven. You can’t take it with you. No man on his deathbed ever wished he had spent more time at the office. I was trying to think of a version for women. Maybe this one works. No woman on her deathbed ever wished she’d spent more time dusting. I don’t know what you would put in the margins there, but there’s something about knowing that we do not have forever on this earth, that wakes us up to see things with a different light. I want you to know that I was in the hospital for several days. The whole time I was in the hospital, I did not once think about how much I needed a new car. I did not once worry about who was going to win the World Series. In addition to that, I just didn’t much care whether I ever got a pair of those skinny jeans or not. Because my mind was focused on what was really important. Because what you’re looking at will change your mind. You have to pay attention to what holds your attention, particularly if it holds your attention in a way that’s like an obsession, like a craving, like you won’t be happy unless you have it. It’s much wiser to lift your eyes above to realize what is truly important. We just heard that song, “Drugs or Jesus?” Maybe you think that’s a little dramatic, what if we worded it like this: “Everybody just wants to enjoy life.” Does it feel a little bit more like it might be us? Sit and watch a perfect world go by. We’re all looking for love and meaning in our lives. We follow the roads that lead us to drugs or Jesus. You ever really thought about what a drug is? It is a material thing that changes the way you feel. It is a material thing. Throughout all of the Bible, human beings have had trouble with the desire for material things that would bring them happiness. The Bible calls them idols. You make an idol out of wood, you make an idol out of metal, you put four tires on it and you think it’s going to make you happy. But you’re putting your faith in the wrong thing. But there’s a constant struggle going on in our hearts and in our towns, whether they’re large or small. My whole life, the singer says, I’ve tried to run. I’ve tried to hide from a light, from the stained-glass windows in my mind, refusing to let God’s light shine down on me, down on me.” We’re drawn to the road to Jesus. But sometimes, we’re on the wrong road because we’re putting out faith in the material things as if they could do for us what God does. You think “Drugs or Jesus?” is too dramatic? Friends, I want to tell you anything, anything can be an idol. Any thing can be an addiction. Anything. And it would be an amazing thing if you or I did not have at least something that drew our attention away from Jesus? Too far. Matthew 6: 19. Here’s how Jesus puts it: “Do not lay out for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust consume, where thieves break in and steal. Verse 20. “But instead, lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” “Where neither moth nor rust consumes, where thieves do not break and steal. Why? Verse 21. “For where your treasure is, there will your heartbeat also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. If your eyes are pointed at what is meaningful and true and helpful, what is filled with love and joy and peace, light will shine into your life. Your whole life, your whole body will be full of light because that lamp will be on. But if your eye is not sound, if it’s not working as it should, if your eye is distracted and turned to other things, if your eye is focused on darkness, darkness will flow into your mind and life. If what should be light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness? Verse 24. Here’s where Jesus brings it home. “No one can serve two masters. Rather he will hate the one and love the other or he’ll be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and material things.” That’s what that word mammon means. You cannot serve God and lust for money. You cannot serve God and focus on consuming everything for your pleasure. You got a choice. You’re on a road. It leads to Jesus or it leads to putting the material things of this world in the place of Jesus and where He should be. If you want to know where your treasure is, take an inventory. If you take your checkbook out, if you keep track of the dollars as they flow out of your wallet, where does your money go? Total it up. That’s your priority. That’s your treasure. 100 years ago, people had a lot more time than they had money. This is when it was easy for volunteers to come to church because there wasn’t anything else to do. Nowadays, people have money but they have no time. Keep track of where your time goes. You’ll find out what your priority is. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. I waste a lot of my time on things that just don’t matter. But that’s how you know what your treasure is. What do you spend your time and your money on this world? If you want to turn things around, what you want to do is ask Jesus to heal your eyes. To ask Jesus to help you to pay attention to what matters. To ask Jesus to help you to turn away from what doesn’t matter. You may not be able to stop doing it, but if you could stop thinking about it, you’ll stop doing it eventually. But you may have to ask Jesus to heal your eyes please sing it with me. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of his glorious grace. If you turn your attention your paths will go in the direction that you’re looking. Lay up treasure in heaven. This has been on the church sign now for years. But it’s the commandment that’s well known to us, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And if that’s where your heart is, and that’s where your treasure is, then you’re going to want to obey Jesus. And the minute Jesus has your attention, you know what he’s going to say? He’s going to say, “Turn your eyes to your neighbor. Your neighbor is in need.” You’ve got two coats, your neighbor has none. Give your neighbor a coat. Your neighbor’s lawn mower is broken. You can loan him yours. Be kind to your neighbor and not only that, be kind to yourself. You have no idea what sometimes flows out of the simplest kindness. A plate of cookies. Just simply being friendly because some of the people who are your neighbors do not think they have a friend in this world. But they have you. And not only that, I’ll be honest with you, sociological research has proven that what lies at the root of true conversion to the faith is that people who truly convert to the faith of Jesus Christ have at least one friendship with someone who believes and lives by their faith. And that friendship is the closest friend they have.

What the research says this morning all across the United States, only 18% of the people in a town are in worship Sunday morning. Now you know why it’s 18%, some of you are on vacation, some of you are ill, not everybody can come every single week. But your kindness toward your neighbor is the most sure and certain way, first of all for them to see someone who truly has faith. And for them to see the road that leads to Jesus. You know why? Because you’re on it. And your light is shining. So everything you do for your neighbor lays up treasure in heaven. Everything you do for God lays up treasure in heaven. Let’s turn our attention from material things and the brief, shallow pleasures they can give us to what truly matters. People and our Lord. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, with all the commercials one after another after another, it is so easy for us to be distracted. It’s so easy for us to think that what we truly need is that thing on the TV, that thing in the catalog, that thing on the Internet. They’ll ship it to us for free if we just pay for it right now. Lord help us to see that what truly matters, what we’ll wish one day we had spent more time doing, is spending time with people that we love. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen. Let’s stand and

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Transcription details: Audio 07 08 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 07 08 2018.mp3

Date:   15-Jul-2018

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in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is going through what religious practices were popular in his day. Earlier in this chapter, he talked about the practice of blowing a trumpet when you put your gift into the offering. He talked about the practices related to prayer. And now, he talks about something that may not be very well-known to most of us. When you fast– now, there’s a lot of people who like to say, “That means that Jesus expects us to fast.” The answer I would say to that is, “It’s complicated.” It won’t fit into a 20-minute sermon. But Jesus certainly is trying to change what they’re focusing on in Jesus’ day. So the first thing that comes into mind when we think about fasting is if fasting has to do with going without food. And you know, that’s basically true. Fasting is a part of every world religion. Some religions have very specific rules for fasting. Jewish people, for example, are forbidden to fast on the Sabbath Day. That there are 25 other times that they are recommended to fast. Protestants generally have no rules for fasting. Why? Because we are Protestants. We like the freedom to do what we feel God is leading us to do and I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of us who feel that it’s God’s will that we not fast. [laughter] Let’s be honest.

But to most people, the first level of understanding in fasting is, it means to do without food. But there’s another level. There are people who, as a part of their spirituality, connect the idea of fasting up with mourning, grieving, repenting. They connect it up with religious customs that do the same thing. A great deal of that is sincere. But if you look on the Internet, if you pay attention when fasting is mentioned on Facebook. There is a disturbing theme that you will here. And the disturbing thing is this: “If you fast if you persecute yourself. If you go without and suffer, you can make God do what you want. You can get that prayer answered that you want. You can get that old boyfriend back. You can get that brand new car. Or, if that’s not enough money, that brand new combine. Nice and shiny, and, is it green or red? What’s the best color?

Green.

Green? Okay. [laughter] What would I know? [laughter] But there’s almost this little theme that if you can do it in just the right way, it’s like a little magic thing and you can get what you want from God, no matter what God feels about it. And you need to think just a minute about what it means to repent repent. Repent is not about you getting what you want. It’s about God getting what God wants. And so this is just wrong. And it’s so wrong that Jesus needed to address it. You see, in Jesus’s day quite often fasting was competitive. I fast better than you. I am more fancy than you with my fasting. It was a way for people to show off. The Pharisee and the tax collector, Luke 18:11. The Pharisee stood, notice how Jesus puts this, “The Pharisee stood and prayed with himself.” “God, I thank you, that I’m not like other men. I’m not an extortioner, I’m not unjust, I’m not an adulterer, I’m not even like this tax collector.” Verse 12, you can see the showoff here. “I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.”

You see, in religious circles in Jesus’s day, your very public fasting was a way to be competitive and to show off. Luke 5:33, and other places in the new testament and they said to him, they came to Jesus in criticism, “The disciples of John fast often. And while they’re fasting they offer prayers. And so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours seem to be always eating and drinking.” That still comes down to today, doesn’t it? The disciples were criticized because they weren’t showing off as well as the others. This is wrong. And so we come to the scripture for today, Matthew 6. “And when you fast do not look dismal like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces. They throw ashes over their head. They smear their faces with dirt as if they’d not bathed for a week. They do this so that their fasting may be seen by men.” As Jesus said about the way they pray, about the way they give, “Truly I say to you they’ve received their reward.” God is sick and tired of our religious showing off.

God looks down and sees a stand-up, sit-down, kneel, sing loud, sing soft. God watches us putting on a show because we belong here in church. And God is tired of the show. It’s been in reruns for 2,000 years. He’s tired of the show. Our faith is not showbiz. Our faith is not going through the motions, acting in a certain way. But sadly, for a lot of people, it’s not gone from the hands to reach the heart it’s a matter of acting in a certain way rather than it reaching our hearts. God is tired of the show. God wants to see real faith. So Jesus says, “When you fast, don’t be throwing dirt on yourself. When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be seen by men, but by your father, who is a secret. And your father who sees in secret will reward you.” You see, it’s not about what other people can see. It’s about what’s between us and God, and that applies to fasting, too. But fasting can also be more than food. This is the third level of understanding fasting.

It’s to be able to do something good with time and resources saved because you are not eating. Now I don’t know if you gave up chocolate for Lent, but the idea of this is, you take your chocolate. You give it to somebody else who needs chocolate. I don’t know myself anyone who needs chocolate, but there’s probably someone out there who needs chocolate. Somebody just waved at me. But maybe instead of chocolate, you might give the food that you were eating to the food pantry. You might do something good with that time. In Jesus’s day, they had to work every day in order to eat that day. Jewish families had to save a little bit out each day so there would be food to eat on the Sabbath. Poor people have to work or they can’t eat. So what does it mean if you decide to fast? I have a whole day now that I can devote to doing something that God wants to do. Keep track some day of how much time it takes to make the food that you eat. Keep track some day of how much time it takes to eat the food that you eat. Then add on to that the time it takes to clean up the kitchen and go to the grocery store. And if you just gave that time to God, you would find you have a lot of time.

This understanding of fasting is the idea that the purpose of fasting is to allow us to do what God wants, and free our time up from what might not be as valuable as we think. Now somebody might say, “Now if I don’t have those pancakes smothered with butter and maple syrup, how will I have energy to do anything for God, if I give up all those carbohydrates?” Well you know, a fact that the way your body works is if you run out of carbohydrates, your body switches over to burning fat, and oddly enough, it’s very efficient at burning fat. In fact, one of the problems if people fast, they quite often find they have so much energy they can’t go to sleep at night. You know why that is? a thousand years ago when your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, whatever got up in the morning, they did not have a refrigerator full of food. They had to get up and go get it even when there was no food in their stomach. And your body is made to find energy when you are not actually eating. And it will. So fasting gives us time, but there’s also energy to do the things that God would wish us to do.

Now it might be that the thing that most consumes your energy is not eating, although we do understand that don’t we? Maybe the thing that most consumes your time is something like watching television. Average two, three, four, five hours a day for some people. Maybe it’s that you’re a shopaholic. Maybe it’s that you’re a workaholic. You spend hours and hours at work after it’s time to go home doing things that don’t matter because you’re a perfectionist and you just can’t leave. Maybe you’re some other kind of -holic. Maybe there’s something else that if you gave it up it would give you time to do the things that you want to do for God. But if you don’t need to eat that day, you can step aside from work and do good. Fasting is more than food. And in fact, fasting is service to your neighbor. I don’t want to take the time to read the whole scripture, but it’s on the back of your bulletin here. Where in Isaiah 58, God talks about the show. God talks about looking down from heaven and watching people weave, and moan, and cry out, and, “Oh.” So that everyone will notice them. God is so tired of the show. And the words are right there.

Look at verse 3, “Why have we fasted and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves and though takest no knowledge of it? Behold,” God says, “in the day of your fast, you seek your own pleasure and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose?” God says, “A day for a man to humble himself is it to bow down his head like a rush, like a weed in the wind, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him. Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord?” Verse 6, “Is not this the fast that I choose? To loose the bonds of wickedness. To undo the thongs of the yoke. To let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke.” Implying every yoke of slavery. Verse 7, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house? And when you see the naked,” which refers to extreme poverty, “to cover him, and to not hide yourself from your own flesh. Then

shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily. There’s not room for all the verses there, but it goes on down to the fourteenth verse where God says, this is the deepest level, the purpose of fasting is that you would become a kinder and better person. Because God says, what’s the great commandment? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And when God gets our attention, God says, I want you to look at your neighbor now. What are you doing to your neighbor? Where is their cruelty that needs to be replaced by kindness? That’s the fast that I choose, a changed you showing God’s love to your neighbor. That’s the deepest understanding. It has nothing to do with food.

John Wesley fasted and I want to tell you I’m quite an incredible hypocrite about fasting. For many, many years that I was a diabetic, I just simply said, look, it’s not good for my health to go without food so I’m going to go straight for Isaiah and ignore the food part. I have since learned that I was completely wrong. Because the act of fasting, of going without food, can be phenomenally beneficial to your health. But here’s how John Wesley did it. He did it because it was part of the rules of the Anglican Church of which he was an ordained minister. John Wesley would fast on Wednesdays and Friday. He would start by not eating anything after supper. Boy, that’s unreasonable. And then the next morning, he’d skip breakfast, and he’d skip lunch, and he’d eat an early supper at three o’clock, not even 24 hours. That’s what he did. Not only that, it was a partial fast. John Wesley allowed his followers to have any kind of liquid including that giant mug of coffee, that I enjoy so much, with milk in it, or maybe cream. In John Wesley’s case, it was probably tea, might have been fruit juice, might have been vegetable juice, as long as it was liquids. Because you see, it’s not about food, but about you choosing to do something for God.

In fact, Wesley would not ordain people, would not accept people into the Methodist Ministry if they weren’t willing to do this. And so I, for over 30 years– I’m not good enough for John Wesley. As time passed and he got older, Wesley changed, pulled back to just Friday which was the Anglican norm. But in his sermon on fasting, he went on and on about how unwilling people were to take this challenge. Jesus says when you fast– so if you fast, there’s some things we need to be aware of. Little practical considerations. If to you, fasting is going without food, first of all, if you have any sort of illness, particularly if you’re a diabetic, you need to talk to your doctor and get your doctor’s advice. Secondly, if you choose to fast, it should be for a period of one day or less, perhaps like John Wesley, nothing after supper, skip breakfast and lunch. You need to drink when you’re fasting. Most of the time, when people are hungry, well, it’s not because they’re hungry, but it’s because they’re dehydrated. If you find that you’re hungry, and you drink a big glass of water, a lot of times the hunger goes away. On the other hand, let me make a point just about hunger, anyway. When you go back to the salt potluck line for the third time, you’re not going back because your body needs the food.

You’re going back because your mind says, “Oh, oh, that pie. I need another slice of that pie.” But your body does not need another slice of pie. In fact, your body doesn’t care whether it’s pie or beef or vegetables or whatever. Hunger is mostly in the mind. But a lot of times it’s simply because we don’t drink enough. I tell you please pray for me to drink more. It’s very possible I was in the hospital because my being dehydrated in that hot Texas sun exacerbated a bunch of little things to become a big thing. Another very solid principle of fasting is if you feel ill, then you just stop. And finally, if you’re curious about this, come and see me. Let’s have a talk about it. But if you want, you can zoom right past the food part, and go straight to being a better person part, and begin to seek to do God’s will in your life.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, people around you in your day were always fasting. They were quite competitive about it. We’re not so competitive about it but Lord, for some of us, it might be a good thing. I ask that you would open our minds to the possibilities because for some of us, it would be your will that we do fast. For some of us, Lord, it might be your will that rather than fasting as doing without food, we might fast in order to focus more on doing your will. Please guide us into all that is holy and all that it means to be a Christian in our hearts. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen. I like to invite you to stand and let’s sing our closing hymn which is Spirit of the Living God Fall Fresh on Me.

[music]

 

 

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Transcription details: Audio 07 01 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 07 01 2018.mp3

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Date:   15-Jul-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 07 01 2018.mp3

 

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I would like to tell you something about me. Going all the way back to junior high in the first reading of the Lord of the Rings I got all excited about a sword that was magic and if a hero had a sword that was magic a hero could do good things for people. Of course, the very first thing I read was The Hobbit where a hero had a magic microphone that let people in the back row hear him. Well, I’ve got one of those. But in The Hobbit, Bilbo had a magic ring, and the power of that magic ring helped him to do good. And, of course, if you go back that far you know the TV show I Dream of Jeannie? I love reading stories and books where there’s a genie that shows up and says, “Master, what can I do to help you?” and you tell the genie to go mow the lawn or wash the dishes. I love the idea of magic.

And so I want to tell you that I am laying in the hospital bed in Austin, Texas, and I’m feeling sorry for myself and I say to myself, “You know, I really need a genie about now,” because a genie would show up and I would say, “I want to the fever to go down, I want the blood sugar to go down, I want to sleep longer, I want to wake up full of energy,” and the genie would say, “Okay.” But it was around that time that I began to realize that I had something more powerful than any magic genie, more powerful than any magic sword to do right, more powerful than any magic ring. In fact, it wasn’t a thing that I had. I had a someone because I’m laying there in bed in the hospital and I’m thinking, “You know, I could just tell Jesus because he’s more powerful than any genie.” He is smarter than any doctor having created the world. He is a great healer. We know that from reading scripture. I need Jesus and I already have him and I began to turn my attention to prayer. I’ll be honest with you, folks. If you don’t want to eat, if you don’t want to read, you know how sick I am if I tell you I don’t want to read, if you don’t want to watch TV, if you don’t even want to watch baseball, you don’t have much energy to do anything, but you always have the energy to pray.

And so I would pray with  each breath. Jesus, heal me. You are smarter than I. You know what I most need. Jesus, heal me. And I prayed, day after day, after day, because I didn’t feel like doing much else. And now I’m here, I’m better. I will continue to be better. But I’m not quite as fond of [inaudible] as I was before this happened, because the most powerful person in my life to help me was my Lord Jesus Christ. We’re looking at the commands of Jesus, what Jesus asked us to do. A year ago, at this time, we had a whole sermon series on the Lord’s prayer. It’s online if you’d like to listen to the details, but here’s sort of an overflight. We’re looking at the commands of Jesus. The command of Jesus is simply this. Pray then like this, and what follows is a pattern for us to pray. The first two words set the tone for everything. Our Father. I want to tell you that, when I was in the hospital bed, I was not praying our Father. I was praying my Father, my health, my feeling better, my getting out of the hospital, my getting back to see my grandaughters. My prayers were me, me, me, me. And right there in the first two words, Jesus points something out. God is our Father. That’s when I began to pray for my wife. Lord, help her to stay healthy because I need her to help me, me, me, me.

But to be honest, our Father goes from the room that I was in, to every caregiver that took care of me, every nurse, every aid who came in the night. Our Father is every patient down every hallway, our Father is everyone that I am connected to because God is our Father. Here’s how we need to pray. We need to pray in a way that connects us to the people around us. Joshua notes that there are no singular pronouns in this prayer with regard to us. The only singular pronoun is when we say thy and we’re speaking of God. Every pronoun related to our needs is plural. Us. They all are. Our Father. And our prayers need to connect us with all around us who are part of God’s worldwide family of believers. Some of whom don’t even know that God is their Father because they don’t believe yet, but God is still loving them and drawing them to Him. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. When you notice God at work, all of a sudden you have a lot to say thank you for, you have a lot to pray praise God for.

It is not that God is insecure and needs you to prop up God’s ego. But every word of praise that comes from your mouth shows God how much you understand about God. We speak of God as Father and if that’s true, God, I suppose, has something like a refrigerator and on it, is a drawing from little Davie. And maybe no one else knows it’s a camel, maybe only God knows it’s a camel, but God rejoices at every step I take that shows that I understand the beautiful and wonderful nature of God. Hallowed be Thy Name. By Kingdom, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. The more that I understand about God, the more that I understand that there is a plan, even a plan for me to be in the hospital on my vacation. There is a purpose in everything that happens around us. It is to cause the Kingdom to come to pass in our world. As the Kingdom comes to be real in our world, it comes to be real because Thy, God’s will is done, more and more, on earth as it is in Heaven.

So this is what we pray for. Let the Kingdom come, let God’s will be done. Let good be sown like seed into fertile ground. And may God’s glory come from that. Well, now that we’ve gotten the God stuff correct, it’s time to take the Kingdom out into our neighborhoods. As you pray for your family and your friends, pray that God’s will would be done in their life. As  you pray for your interests, your hobbies: “I go to the movies, I go to the ballgames.” Pray for the people who are there that the Kingdom would come and God’s will would be done. As you go to work, as you volunteer when you put yourself out for others when you serve. Where you serve it and what you do, may the Kingdom come and God’s will be done. And lest we forget, as we pray for our neighbors in all of these places, they are the people who simply are our geographical neighbors. Let the Kingdom come and pray for God’s will to be done. On earth, as it is in Heaven.

Here’s John Wesley’s suggestions: “Do no harm, do more good. Do all the good you can and draw near to God with every step you take.” Now, it’s our turn. Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Really all I need is what I need to today. For today, I can trust God to provide. I can trust the nurse to bring the medications that I need tomorrow and the pills I need to take today. I can trust the “us.” But I need to pray that other people’s needs be met, as well. Because because people like this family in India that are literally living on the sidewalk, and every one of their belongings is right there with them, they’re refugees, they are my concern as well. I’m connected to them by the fact that we have a Father. I need to pray that they will also have their daily bread. Here comes another important thing. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Right after the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus explains this. If you forgive men their trespasses– and that’s why we say trespasses, if you forgive them their trespasses, your Heavenly Father also will forgive you but hear me well. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now it is important for us to understand that women sometimes need to be forgiven, too. Because women sometimes do mean things, too. But the entire point that Jesus is making is we need to be people who are givers of forgiveness because we also need it. There are some of us in this room, I need to say, have been horribly abused in their childhood. Some are horribly abused in their adulthood. To forgive the person who abuses you does not mean that gives them a fresh chance to hurt you again. What it means is that you let go so that God can deal with them because now you’re out of the way. Part of that is that, if we are to be forgiven, we also need to share forgiveness with others. And then we also can trust God for our future. Lead us not into temptation, which means a time of testing. Friends, I’ve had all the testing I want for a while. I’m due for the seventh inning stretch, that’s for sure. But we can trust God. Lord, do not lead us into testing, but Lord, deliver us from evil. Because we can pray thy will be done with my future. We can pray thy will be done with my bread and my med and all of my needs. We can pray thy will be done with all of our sins and mistakes.

Now I’ll be honest with you, after all of these years wishing that it would be fun to have a genie, I’m probably not going to lose that interest right away. But I will tell you with the deepest humility, I’m so thankful that I go on a prayer walk with Jesus Christ, and he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own. And next to that, I am so thankful that whenever I pray this prayer, I remember that I am praying how we have our Father, and that you walk with me also and lift me up in prayer. I am so thankful for all of that. We have the opportunity to live our lives as a prayer walk where Jesus goes with us in so many ways. Amen. Lord Jesus, one of the ways that you go with us is the night you were betrayed you took bread, you took the cup, you said, “Take and eat.”

 

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Transcription details: Audio 06 10 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 06 10 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 06 10 2018.mp3

 

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you’ve all heard this. Growing older, let’s put it that way, growing older is not optional. Every day the sun comes up. [inaudible] gets a tiny little bit stiffer than when you were nine-years-old. Growing older is not optional but some people would tell you growing up is optional, you know why? We see all kinds of people around us who’ve never grown up. Now, if you have a brand new red convertible, I don’t mean to make fun of that because there isn’t a little child inside of all of us who needs to play but we will admit, there are a lot of people around us who still seem very childish and immature. Many people do not grow up. So if you look at the way the world is, you could say, “Well, I guess growing up is optional.” But I want you to know, John Wesley would not agree with you because John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement would say, “We are all supposed to grow up. We are all supposed to go on to perfection. We all should be a better person today than we were a year ago.” That’s what it means to grow up.” John Wesley called this sanctifying grace. God is reaching out into our lives to help us to grow up, to help lives to be better, not magically or by accident, but they help life to be better because we are better people and that takes time because growing up takes time. Growing up, John Wesley would say it’s not optional. And I like to also suggest that God the father would say that growing up is not optional. If you look at Matthew 28:20, the last verse of the great commission, or last verse in the book of Matthew, it says, “Now that we’re disciples, now that we’re Christians, now that we’re saint, whatever you want to say, it’s not that we sent back and do nothing and wait to go to heaven, we’re supposed to grow up. And what does it mean to grow up spiritually? We grow up spiritually as we learn to observe to live everything that Jesus command. And because we’re not perfect yet, we’re just going on toward perfection. This sort of growing takes time. It takes time to grow, and it also takes love. On Mother’s Day, we talk about mother love, we talk about mother’s love to each children unconditionally, we talk about mothers saying things like, “I love you so much. You’re perfect just as you are.” And you know something? That’s true of fathers too. Part of loving as a parent is to love and nurture unconditionally, and we need that. But [inaudible] around Mother’s Day, this is what we say about mothers. And as we get closer to Father’s Day, quite often, we talk about a different kind of love a father kind of love which may be a little hard to describe, but kind of love that encourages us, a kind of love that challenges us, the kind of love that causes a father to stand over [inaudible] and look down at a baby and say, “I can’t wait until you and I can play catch.” I can’t wait until you grow up because then we can go fishing, or hunting, or to a Cardinals game or to a Cubs game. I’m trying to be fair there. But fathers love little babies but they love what little babies become. It’s so wonderful to hold the little baby. But if that baby never grew up, wouldn’t that be attractive? What’s wonderful to me, particularly, is I see my son raise his granddaughters. I love the person he’s become. I am so proud of him. But you see, that’s a father kind of love. It’s not satisfied with how things are because of how wonderful things can be. A father love looks down on a child and says, “I love you just as you are, but I can’t wait until you grow up. I want to encourage you to grow up.” That was one verse of the bible I go to all the time about this. There’s hundreds that I would love to talk about we don’t have that time. Aren’t you happy? Here’s the one I know [inaudible] all the time– not quite yet. Here’s another reason just to remind you, all parents want babies to grow up, but here’s the question, how does God felt the children of God grow up. Here’s my favorite verse. From Hebrews, chapter 12 starting with the 10th verse, “And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons,” and this is a quote from the old testament. “My son, do not regard likely the discipline of the lord. Your [inaudible] courage when you are punished by him for the Lord disciplines him and her who he loves and chastises every son or daughter who he receives.” The heavenly father looks down and says, “You know, can we agree that that was a mistake?” “I want you to know,” our heavenly father says, “I believe you can do that.” People who are never asked [inaudible] you know what quite often happens? They get stuck in those immature stages of life and they hurt you because they never learn from any of their mistakes. Saddest thing you will ever see in the world is someone who doesn’t learn from their mistakes, you know why? The wheel just goes around and around and everything that hurts them and hurts people happens again and again and again until they learn their lesson. God the Father wants us to learn our lesson when we make a mistake. We’re [inaudible]. It is for discipline. It is for this learning that you have to ignore God is treating you as sons and daughters. For what son or daughter is there who his father does not discipline? Some of you are smiling because the discipline in your house was your mom. Your mom was the one you didn’t dare cross. But with God the Father we’re disciplined so that we can become better people.

What child is there who a parent does not discipline? If you are left without discipline in which all have participated, then you are not really a part of a family. Because what is family really does is encourage everyone to be better, and if people make mistakes, they encourage them to learn through their mistakes, and sometimes that encouragement gets louder and louder if the lesson hasn’t been learned. If you’re without that kind of discipline in which all have participated, then you’re not really part of a family. You’re illegitimate children and not [sons?]. Besides this, now the [Altar?] Hebrew’s connected the way he’s talking about God with human parents. Beside this, we’ve had earthly fathers that discipline us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to learn how to obey and what to obey? Shall we not much more be subject to the Father’s spirits and live [for sin?]? For our earthly parents, our mothers and fathers disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but our Heavenly Father disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness. If we go, then going on to perfection.

Let me tell you a story about my father. My father loved police auction bicycles. My mom was a stay at home mom in Belleville, Illinois. I was born in 1955, and somewhere around when I was five years old or so, my dad decided that I was ready to learn how to ride a bicycle. Now, I was not your typical five-year-old. When I was in sixth grade, I was 6′ tall. And I was pretty tall as a five-year-old, but that’s important in just a minute. My dad loved police auction bicycles because they were cheap. But to be honest with you, they were a little bit like Frankenstein bikes because the police in Belleville, Illinois all year long, when a bicycle was found abandoned, when a bicycle was involved in an accident, the police would gather it up and take it down to their impound block, and all year long this pile of broken bicycles would get higher and higher. So one, the [officers carrying the fronts?] all messed up. Not a thing wrong with the back. And they went out on auction once a year to raise money for charity, and you can buy a whole bike for five bucks. My dad loved that. He’s German. So here’s what you need to understand, I learned to ride a bicycle as a five-year-old on an adult-sized bicycle. The back of it was like the one you see there. It had little, skinny tires. The front of it had handlebars that went like this, and a huge, giant, fat balloon tire. Every part on it was a different color because every part came from a different body. It was literally a Frankenstein bike, but it was cheap. I can tell you that when my dad put me on, my feet could reach the pedals but my feet could not reach the ground. And I said to my dad, “Dad, I’m scared. This is going to hurt.” My dad said something to me like, “Yeah. It will hurt but you’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” Now I can wish that I’d learned to ride a bike like this. Look at that brand new, beautiful, little red, white and blue bicycle. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Back in 1961, 1960, they did not wear helmets. To be honest, I needed helmets and knee pads and body armor and all kinds of stuff, because it wasn’t kind of a gentle, little push. My dad took us out into the road in front of the house; oil road, oil, and gravel. Stood in the middle of the road and ran as hard as he could with one hand on the handlebars, one hand on my back, as hard as he could and then he let go. It was not like this. I don’t really remember the first time, but I think I might have gone six feet before I keeled over and slid through the pea-sized gravel on the little road. My mom would not let me wear jeans because this would put holes in your jeans. So I was wearing shorts. And I said, “Dad, it hurt.” He said, “I know, it hurts, but you’ll be fine. Let’s do it again. I said, “I don’t want to.” He said, “Get back in the bike.”

So I’m back on the bike again and he’s got to hold me up because my feet literally won’t reach to the ground. So off we go running down the road again, about 10 to 20 feet, long enough to go a lot faster than I wanted. This time I might have made it 15 feet before I fell down and slid through the gravel, and it still hurt. And then there was a third time and a fourth time, but the weirdest thing, at some point in time that day, I learned how to do it. But when I look back on it, it still feels something like this, although it wasn’t that bad. My dad kept reminding me, “You know, this is going to hurt a little bit but you’re going to love it when you can ride your bike.” And he was right. See, sometimes when something happens

you have to hang on and keep learning and go through the hurt, because of what is on the other side that will make it okay. Here’s the very next verse and this is a verse for all of us when we’re going through difficult times. You’re going through a difficult time, I think it’s helpful for you to imagine perhaps God is trying to show me something. Perhaps what I should do is ask what am I supposed to learn because as soon as I have learned to stay on the bike it will stop hurting. Here’s the 11th verse. One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible to me. For the moment all discipline, all lessons, all challenges, for the moment, for the moment, in the present moment, they seem painful rather than pleasant. But later, see that word, that’s a very important word. Later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been, and here’s the word I love the most, trained by it. When I’m having a bad day, I say to myself, “What if this is training?” If I am involved in an argument with someone who should know better because they’re wrong and I’m right, but they’re just too stubborn to admit it– it does happen occasionally, maybe more often than that. I can say to myself, “What if I’m being trained by this?” The minute I learn how to keep my balance and keep moving forward it will stop hurting. Because if I keep my balance and keep moving forward, I won’t be crashing. And later I’ll look back on it, later I’ll look back on it, and think to myself, that was worthwhile.

Here’s another example of that that I think we should all keep in mind. When they nailed Jesus to the cross, in that moment, it was painful. But later, later it yielded something very beautiful and healing that blessed every person who has ever lived and ever will live. But if you think you’re having a bad day, I’d like to invite you to remember the day that Jesus had on the cross. And that because he yielded himself to go through it, not get stuck in, but to go through it, his willingness to endure yielded the peaceful fruit of righteousness, not just to him but to all of us. Friends, if it’s not a good day you need to hang on until you get to the later part. Hang on and keep learning and you’ll move from a time that may be like a cross to a time that may be like peace [inaudible].

Please pray with me. Lord, sometimes life comes with hard lessons and in the middle of those lessons, it is painful rather than pleasant. But help us, Lord, help us to hang on so that we can get to the later. Help us to learn Lord so that we can get to the later. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

When life causes you to need to say ouch, you have a friend in Jesus. Let’s stand and sing. [music]

 

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Transcription details: Audio 06 03 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 06 03 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 06 03 2018.mp3

 

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the Bible says that we are made in the image of God. And there is something about the instant when the world was created, when we were created, that imprints upon us that feeling, that sense of this great, and powerful, and mighty force bringing us all into being. Generically, that’s the faith that all of us have except those who wish to oppose it by choosing to be Atheist. The word for it is Deism. That there is a deity. And classically, what deity means in deism is that there is a God who created the world and then after that, just kind of went on to do other things and left us on our own to do the best that we could. That this God who created the world isn’t that interested in being involved in this world. The closest thing that we come to that today is in the movie Star Wars, there is the force. The force is there. Sometimes it helps you if you pay attention to it. It has a light side and a dark side, but the force is not a person. When Jesus came to this earth, he came to help us to repent. The word repent, as you’ve heard me say many times, is that we need to rethink. Repent gives us a new way of looking, a new perspective. And here is the new way of looking from that concept of deism.

God is a person. Jesus is a person. You cannot have a relationship with a force. As pretty as they are, you can not have a relationship with a sunset. But you can have a relationship with a person. And in essence, the entire ministry of Jesus, he said to Philip, “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” The entire ministry of Jesus is teaching people what it means to have a relationship with God. And a big part of that is how we do spiritual things, piety, how we pray, and other things that are considered to be spiritual. And so in Matthew 6:1, we are involved in looking at what does it mean to be spiritual? And a few weeks ago, we talked about the first beware. Jesus said, “Don’t give gifts to the temple and have somebody blow a trumpet so as to notice you. Beware of practicing your piety before others, before men, in order to be seen by them.” If that’s your goal, here’s the result. For then, you will have no reward from your Father, who is in Heaven. We need to be aware when we act like spiritual people where other people can see. We need to be aware that sometimes when a football team kneels to pray, that is not showing off. That is a very sincere [pray?] but we need to be aware. We need to be careful. So here’s what Jesus says about prayer. Think about time around the dinner table. The family has gathered. You bow your heads. You pray. I share with you the prayer that we prayed as children in my house. “Come Lord Jesus be our guest. And let these gifts to us be blessed.” And then the dinner would go on. Conversation would go on. We would learn about each other’s day. And by the end of dinner, we would know more about each other than when we started. When you have a relationship with people there’s conversation. People respond to how you interact with them. I also read this week related to a branch of psychology called, Attachment Theory. Don’t do this. But I read about experiments to where little children, toddlers would be in a room and the psychologist would have the mother have a face that was stony. Without expression at all. The mother would turn away from the child and look away. And no matter what the child did the mother would not show any emotional reaction whatsoever. And every time they did that experiment you know what was the result? A panic-stricken, frightened child. Don’t do this at home.

But when you think about it one of the very sincere ways that you can harm another person is to totally ignore them. To turn your back on them. To pretend as if they do not exist. And it happens all the time. If you ever had somebody do that to avoid you, to shun you, to act as if you did not matter at all. To ignore you while you were right there. Has that ever happened to you? Some of you are laughing at each other, I’ll bet it has happened to you. So think for just a moment. What is it like, “Come Lord Jesus be our guest.” To where you pay attention to God for one minute at the beginning of a meal and then ignore him the entire rest of the time. Is that a relationship? Sadly something we take for granted. We’ve done our duty. We acknowledge God, you’re here. And then we acted as if we did not believe in God for the rest of the meal. Now please understand me. God is not like a toddler who is terribly upset when his children ignore him. In fact, I’ll be honest with you, God’s probably pretty used it. But we don’t realize how little our prayers are actually as if we were speaking with a person. We don’t realize how often it’s as if we’re checking off a box we’ve done our due. Now we can turn away from God to things that are more important like what’s on the plate. “And when you pray,” Jesus says, verse five. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues,”– kind of like me, standing and praying in a synagogue. “They love to stand and pray at the street corners. Why? So that they can be seen by other people. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Why? They’re not talking to God. They’re showing off. That’s all they want. So that’s how God treats them. Their prayer is to be noticed. God answers that prayer. “Okay. Other people have noticed you.” Here’s an example of that from Luke 18. As he stood in the Temple in full view of everyone else and, notice, prayed thus with himself. Pharisee prays out loud so that everyone here can hear, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people, other people who are extortioners, and unjust, and adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get. Aren’t I wonderful?” Apparently, in Jesus’ day, there was a lot of prayer just like now.

But here’s what Jesus says. “Instead of that, do this,” verse six. “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door.” One translation uses the word closet. This is a little closet that’s been made a place to study. “Go into your room, go into your closet and shut the door. And pray to your Father, who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” You see, the person you are when nobody can see you, that’s who you really are. The person you are when you’re not showing off. The person you are when no one is watching, that’s who you really are. And if that person is a person who prays, God will meet you there. And God will bless you and help you. The Father, who is your spiritual Father and your Father God, who is with you when no one else is there, really, truly is with you, also when everyone else is [inaudible]. Jesus goes on to say this, “And in praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do.” In the secular world, they call these affirmations. God loves me. God makes no joke. God loves me. God makes no joke. God loves me. God makes no joke oh, our precious, Heavenly Father, we thank You for this food that has been sent before us and we pray that you will bless us to the comfort and the help of our God. Amen. There’s little phrases. My favorite phrase– and you know why it’s my favorite phrase? It’s my favorite phrase because Lutherans don’t use it.  So I’m not accustomed to it. I didn’t grow up with that as the idea of normal prayer. But my family prays like this,  when somebody prays, that there will be a hedge of protection around you. Now, that is an actual verse from the old testament. It is right out of the bible. When every time somebody prays for a hedge of protection, I feel like there’s a giant curtain of [inaudible] full of torches passed up all around so nobody can even get in. And honestly, if you pray for a hedge of protection, I apologize to you but I think the thing that we both could agree upon is that  God knows what you need when you pray for that. But Jesus said, “Be careful. Don’t heap up phrases as the Gentiles do.” Well, they think that using these fancy phrases impresses God. God has heard them all before. Well, the Gentiles [inaudible] of people, they think that they will be heard for their many words. God is counting how many words and, “Oh, that’s a good long prayer.” And when it reaches a certain number of words,  little ding ding ding goes off and now the prayer gets answered because you said enough words. “Don’t be like them,” Jesus said. Why? Because your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Now, that’s true. Honestly, it’s efficient for you to say, “Lord, you know what I need.” But the reason that it’s good for you to tell God what you need is because to strengthen your faith. And sometimes when you’re telling God how much you need that brand new pink Cadillac or whatever it is in your life, brand new pink  $6,000-guitar, or whatever it in your life, God can sort of tap you on the shoulder and say, “Isn’t there something else you need more than that?” It does us good to talk to God even if God knows what we’re going to say. It does you good to look at your wife or look at your husband and say, I love you.  It’s good for the words to come out of your mouth even if they know what you’re going to say. It’s a good thing for you to put into words what is in your heart. Why? Because when you put into words what is in your heart, it builds, and creates, and strengthens a relationship. I had no fried pickles to give Madeline, but I could aim a smile at her all the way throughout dinner so that she knew that I wanted to have a relationship with her. It’s good to put into words what is in your heart. And when we pray, in essence, that is what we do. Okay. So let’s set your timers and have an hour of prayer well, maybe not right now. But imagine for me, if you will, an hour of prayer. Most of the time, really, if you think about that, literally, you think, “What in the world could I do that would spend an hour in prayer? That’s way too long.” Oh, by the way, when was the last time, after watching an hour of television, you said to yourself, “Well, that was a waste.” But, for some reason, we think that an hour spent in prayer would be so incredibly difficult. The reason that hour in prayer can go by so quickly is because our relationship with God is exactly meant to be that. It’s meant to be a relationship. Have you ever talked to somebody who’s fallen in love? And you listen to them because you’re going to try to figure out, “Is this real? Are they really in love?” Do you know how you can always tell? Two people who have fallen in love will, sooner or later, start talking about the other person. They’ll say to someone else– they’ll say, “You know, we talked for hours.” That’s how you know it’s a relationship. “We lost all track of time. We talked for hours.” Friends, when you strengthen, and deepen, and make more real your relationship with God, the time will pass so fast that you won’t even know it. Now, I’ll be honest with you. This does not make sense to everyone. Ben Franklin was helping his father butcher and put up barrels of salt pork. And he said, “Dad, this barrel holds two weeks’ worth of dinner. Why don’t we pray for it now and save all that time at summer?” This is a true story. Makes sense to him. And the reason you don’t is because it’s a relationship. You have to check in from time to time, and spend some time talking. And it really doesn’t matter if an atheist looks at you and says, “You’re just talking to yourself.” Because the reality is, even if it was just you talking to yourself, it will do you good. If somebody tells you that you’re just talking to yourself when you’re praying, the best thing to say is, “At least, I’m talking to someone who understands me or loves me.” You can spend an hour in prayer because it’s not work. It’s not a duty. It’s a relationship. And so you have to begin right where you are, and let what’s in your heart come out. And you might find yourself doing these things. You might have a certain time of the day to where you go to a certain place. We’ve been calling it your chair. And you sit in that place because that’s the place you go to pray. You feel like praying whenever you go to sit there. In fact, it’s a good thing to start your day that way. Most days, that’s how I start my day within a half an hour of getting up well, I conditioned myself that that first drink of coffee goes along with giving my life to God again. And I love coffee. And perhaps it’s because I love coffee that I love God. But that’s how [it is?]. You can take some time to be still and listen to God. Sometimes, we’re just too distracted to spend time with God. Sometimes, we just have to sit still and let the things in the world [be seen?]. And you can spend time with God praying specifically for yourself and for your neighbor. You’re supposed to love your neighbors yourself. Wouldn’t the most basic way to do that be to pray for your neighbor? I actually have a list on my computer because I don’t want to leave out any of the children, and grandchildren, and relatives. And I just go down the line. And I say, “Lord, help this one. Help this one. Help this one.” And I pray for people that I might miss. I pray for people that maybe I’m not getting along with. But I pray for all of them. That’s my first neighborhood. My family. Then I pray for people who are my friends, the people I do fun things with, the people I play miniature golf with, the people I would cheer for the Cardinals with if I bothered to watch baseball. But the friends you have. Pray for them. That’s your next neighborhood. Go around the circle praying for your neighbors where you work or volunteer. I have a whole lot of neighbors that I know because of where I work. They’re not just neighbors. They’re my friends, too. And I pray for them.

We have every single week a list of their names for your prayer time. Wouldn’t take you an hour to pray for all these people. But it might take a little time. And your other neighborhood, of course, is just the people who live around you geographically. This is where I really need a list because, in this house, this house, this house, this house, this house– I didn’t know the Bryce guy that was my neighbor on the other side of [inaudible]. Now I do. I’m going to have to add him to the list. But if you pray through your neighborhood, if you pray for people that you know, it will take some time. And it will connect you and God with all of them. Love your neighbors, yourself. Easiest way to do that is to pray for your neighbor. Another way to pray is to take your Bible, pick one chapter. For me at the current time, it’s the Book of Matthew. There’s 31 days in May. There’s 28 chapters in Matthew. I can read a chapter a day. And I say, “Lord, is there a verse that I need to pay attention to in this chapter?” And quite often, it will just smack me upside the head. It will look like it’s blinking with glowing lights around it. It will be like, “Dave, it’s this one.” This is how we listen to God. And we ask the soul questions. They’re in the back of your bulletin. “What does this mean?” And we don’t just ask it. We say, “Lord–” we ask God, “Lord, what does this mean? What does this say?” [That’s a yes?]. “What does this say that I need to obey?”

Some parts of the Bible provide you with excellent information. But some parts of the Bible are like an instruction manual. They are things for us to live by, to practice, to do. “What does this say that I need to obey?” And the next question, the W, is, “Who needs to hear this?” Well, I need to hear it. And maybe this verse isn’t for me. Maybe it’s for someone I care about. Maybe they need to hear it. And I’m to carry this meaning to them, to support them, and to help them. Read the Bible and ask questions about what it means. And have a conversation with God about what it means. It would be wonderful if you could read the entire Bible in a day. But you probably benefit more from reading one verse and thinking about what it really means and applying it to your mind. Listen to God. And there comes a point in time in my time of prayer that it’s almost as if God says, “You remember you promised so-and-so that you would do such and such?” And I say, “Oh, I better remember that.” And I write it down. When you go to the grocery store, you always want to have a list. You know why. You’ll come home and have forgotten something that you need. And you’ll have to go back. When you listen to God, what’s important to remember, write that down. We call that Journaling. But really, it just helps to make real that time we’re spending with God. If you do these things, and if God shows up, and if God is real, I think you may find– as long as the coffee doesn’t run out, I think you may find that the time passes very rapidly when we actually have a conversation with God. Let’s include God in our conversations, especially the kind of conversations we have at mealtime. On the night that he was betrayed, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ took bread, and broke it, and said, “Take and eat

 

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