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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Transcription details: Audio 05 27 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 05 27 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 05 27 2018.mp3

 

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a new life, a new church, and a new future awaits us all beyond the day of Easter, beyond the day of Pentecost. But today I want to draw your attention to the reality that the resurrection is uphill. You have to come up out of a hole in the ground to live a new life. Resurrection is always uphill.

This is Memorial Day weekend, a day when we particularly remember those who gave their lives. And I would like to remind you again I’ve mentioned this before of my grandfather’s first cousin, Arthur F. [Kueker?] who was awarded a silver star because in the action following the battle of D-Day outside of a French village by the name of Goresville, Arthur Kueker he was a sergeant. Arthur Kueker and a private captured a German machine gun nest. They first attacked with hand grenades and then they ran uphill with nothing but bayonets on their rifles because they’d run out of ammunition. The courage that that requires is difficult for me to imagine, but they ran into enemy fire and the next day he died from his wounds. It takes courage. Serving your country calls for bravery and sometimes that courage means you give your life. But here’s the thing, on D-Day, when they landed they landed on the beach everything from then on was uphill. Heroes are made because people are willing to go uphill whatever the cost.

This is not everyone’s experience. Jesus Christ was never a soldier but he also endured difficulty and suffering even until the day that he also died that you and I might be free, that you and I might be forgiven. So that you and I might know new life, he died on a hill and he had to carry his own cross up the hill. Almost everything in life that is valuable requires courage. Almost everything in life that is useful and meaningful is uphill from where we are and you cannot coast to get there because you cannot coast uphill. We live in a time– and it’s not so different than when I was a kid to where the goal in life was to have it easy. We are very fond of coasting. I was in elementary school when they invented the skateboard. And the dream of every kid who ever stood on a skateboard was a hill that went on for miles and miles and miles because what you wanted to do was coast downhill. The part that was not fun was when you had to turn around and walk back up the hill.

It’s when we walk back up the hill that heroes are made. Here’s a scripture passage about heroes from chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews which is the book of heroes. It mentions all sorts of heroes but here’s just a little phrase. The author goes on to say, “What more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of Sampson, of Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the profits heroes,” Verse 33. Who through faith conquered kingdoms and forced justice, received promises, who stopped the mouths of lions, who quenched  raging fire to escape the edge of the sword, who won strength out of weakness, who became mighty in war who put forth armies to flight, because they had the courage to go forward and that it was difficult in a sense to go uphill. And so Paul encourages us in the beginning of the next chapter the chapter after the one about all of these heroes, therefore, he said, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before,” Paul writes, “Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame.”

Lets also, in other words, the author of Hebrews writes, “Let’s go uphill even when it gets hard.” Here’s another hill. Mount of Olives was on a hill. Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane and going a little further he fell on the ground. He fell on his face and he prayed that if there was any other way if it were possible that the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Ah, but Father all things are possible to thee. Remove this cup from me,” yet Jesus said, “Not what I would will but it’s what Thou will.” Friends, to do God’s will is to move uphill. God’s will is always uphill you can’t coast to become a braver, stronger, better, person. It’s uphill. If you have lost your way, you will find it hidden behind whatever it is that you’re wanting to avoid and the other thing you will find is this. You will find that that road leads uphill. God’s will will lead you uphill. Because that’s how God makes heroic people. He says to them, “Follow me. And even though it gets harder, just keep following. You’ll get strong.” You’ll find God’s will uphill. Jesus said, in John 20:21, “Peace be with you.” This is the resurrection saying, “As the Father had sent me, even so I sent you.” And so you and I are going to move uphill to do God’s will. As the Holy Spirit flows into us and the Holy Spirit flows out of us, we are to go and seek the thing that God wants us to do, even if it’s a little difficult for us, even if it requires a little bit of courage. The Apostle Paul was in jail, Acts 23:11. The following night, while he was there in jail, the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.” In order to make it up the hill, sometimes you have to take courage. Not wait for it. Not beg for it. Take courage. [inaudible] says to Paul, “For as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness also at Rome.” Take courage because you’ll need it to go uphill. Take courage because you’ll need it to go uphill. Because you know, sometimes it feels just like this. You think you need some courage?

No.

Now, here’s the thing to think about. Why do you assume that you’re the little dog?

Little dog.

Why do you think that you’re the little dog? You may be the big dog. But what’s even more likely is maybe you’re the little dog. And you look up at God and you say, “You know, I’ll do it if you’ll go with me.” Friends, the big dog goes with you. You’re going to be okay. It’s just uphill. Not everything in following Jesus is easy. Not everything in following Jesus is coasting. There are lots of wonderful, wonderful people who did not have the energy to get out of bed this morning to come here. But you did. Little things add up. And they pay great benefits. But you don’t need to be afraid because God goes with you wherever you go. There are two ways to give your life. One is to go into battle and provide what some call the supreme sacrifice. But the other way to live your life is the saying that’s on the wall at this Memorial Veterans Garden in North Carolina. It takes courage for you to live your life day by day, and give your life day by day, but that’s important too. You can give your life day by day. You always have a choice in every single situation.

You can roll over and go back to sleep, or you can get up to do the Lord’s will. I’m not embarrassed to say that it’s the Lord’s will that you be here this morning. And I am so glad that you joined me. But I just want to acknowledge that it is uphill. But it’s also the Lord’s will that you find a chair to where you take a moment each day to pray. For some of you, that’s a struggle. That’s uphill. But it’s a good thing, and it will pay you great benefits. When you sit in that chair, you can take a Bible in your hand– and by the way, if you don’t have one, we have New Testaments here. I want everybody to have a New Testament for their purse, for the glove compartment in their car. A New Testament that you can give away to someone. But even more, for you to go uphill to open the Bible every day, and in some way allow the words of Jesus to speak to you. It’s uphill, but it’s a good thing. In every human situation, you can always choose to be like Jesus. And Jesus chose to take courage and to go uphill to do the Father’s will.

We’re going to sing a hymn that really blesses me. This is not a hymn that you know very well. I’ve made you sing it before. We’re going to sing it till we learn it. But let me just slip through the words to the last verse– number 375 if you’re looking in the book. I just want to show you the last verse. When God calls you to go out in your neighborhood and to witness, you may not be able to preach like Peter. You may not be able to pray like Paul. You may not be able to even sing like [Antoine?]. But you can say that Jesus has loved you, and God can take that and work with it. You don’t have to be amazing and awesome. All you have to do is be willing to do God’s will, and God will walk with you uphill. He’ll go with you – with you – all the way. So if you don’t know this song, I invite you to learn it. And we’ll just sing it till we know it. Please stand and sing with me. [music]

 

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Transcription details: Audio 05 20 2018 K.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 05 20 2018 K.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 05 20 2018 K.mp3

 

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Easter promises us a new life just like Jesus on Easter morning. There we are in the darkness of the tomb but the light is shining. There is a new day that is dawning, a new life that is possible. There is a new church that is possible and a new future, but we have to get up and move through the darkness toward the light because new life awaits us beyond the Resurrection. And so for seven weeks, 49 days, the early church prays as they wait for the day of Pentecost to come. And then the Holy Spirit comes down and the church begins to function, to live as the church is meant to live. We are still thousands of years later still in that day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit comes down and lives in offerings through the church to do God’s will. We’ve talked about the overview that when you can watch life as if life was a football game. When you watch it from high up in the stadiums you can see everything that’s going on. Here is the overview I want to suggest to you, Romans 8:28, we know that everything God works for good. Now, please notice. It doesn’t say that everything is good, but we know that in everything God is working for good. God is working the lives of those who love Him. God is working in this world to fulfill his purpose. There is a plan. The Father knows the destination. You and I can let the Father drive because he doesn’t make mistakes. That has greatly comforted me because now if the slides don’t operate the way they should, if I forget and leave the clicker at the back, I just smile and I say to myself, “God had some kind of purpose. It wasn’t that I messed up. God had some kind of purpose. I just need to figure out what it is.” And you see when I understand what God is trying to do for those who love Him, when I understand what God is trying to do to fulfill His purpose in this world, then I have the privilege of being able to cooperate with God and let him do the heavy lifting while I get to say, “And I helped,” because here’s the peculiar, brothers and sisters, God has chosen to change the world we live in by working through people like you and me. When I take a good look at myself it makes me want to argue with Him, but that’s not very smart that I should do less and less so that he does more and more, but he desires our cooperation because God has chosen to work through God’s people. So when you can look down from above and you see   everything that’s going on. So often we have an understanding, but real life is actually lived this way. It’s down on the field. It’s complicated. We don’t quite know what God is doing. We don’t know why things seem to go wrong. We don’t understand how God is going to use everything including how things go wrong to do right. What they say to the running backs? Is to look toward the goal and to run to daylight. And after running that ball forward thousands and thousands of times, they develop an ability to look down field and they just know if I go this way it’s better than if I go that way. They’re able to see daylight the way through what’s happening in the present moment. And they get as far as they can. And then, of course, they get up and they’re able to try again. But down on the field we don’t always see what God is doing. We don’t always understand.

Here’s another illustration of the same thing. I like you to imagine an orchestra. Some of you are the violins. Some of you are the woodwinds, the clarinet, the oboes, some of you are the brass, the trumpet. In the back row, always in the back row are the basses. I played the bass in the orchestra when I was in junior high. Tell you more about that in a minute. They never let me play what I wanted. But they put in front of me this sheet music by somebody named Beethoven that I’ve never heard of before. And they expected me to play what was on the music. And not only that I had to look at the music at the same time I had to look over the music at the conductor because the conductor would tell me how fast to play it. And at certain times if somebody had a special part to play the conductor would point that stick at a person who was going to play a clarinet solo or something like that. The whole group, remember we do it. Okay. It’s your turn. And not only that I had to look at my instrument where my left hand was and where my right hand was. And that was a lot to pay attention to. But here’s the thing. I didn’t have to write the music. God has written the music that we’re playing together. We can trust that God is going to make something beautiful. As we learn to play together. But as we’re learning to play together the one thing that’s important is we cannot be distracted. We have to pay attention to our part. Let me tell you about arguing about being the bass player. There would be this little black bar in the music, it’s called a full rest. And underneath it would be the number 35. Now in four-four time, there’s four beats per measure. So the basses, there’s about six of us, we’re in the back row– by the way you know the reason why you play the bass? The school buys the bass. Your parents don’t have to pay for it. That’s why you play the bass. But what that black bar in the [inaudible] is you’re back there doing nothing. Counting to four beats 35 times, because you know something? The basses are playing the right notes even when they’re playing nothing if that’s what the music calls for. Here’s my problem, I was not able to count to 35 by fours. I was always coming in too early or come in too late. I missed the conductor going, your turn. But Jesus has written the music. What we need to do is learn how to concentrate, learn how to pay attention to the music that Jesus has written. You’ll find it in the Bible. God’s plan for what a church should be doing is in the Bible. That’s the musical score. The conductor is the Holy Spirit, who says, “It’s your turn now to do something special.” And we have to be ready to do our part. Sometimes, we’re the solo, sometimes we’re playing the support. But if we play the music as God has written it, something beautiful will come out of our cooperating with each other. Because God wants to do something beautiful through us and through our paying attention.

I would now like to introduce you to Kathy, who’s going to talk to you about how she was paying attention when she went for a prayer walk. And you know, Kathy might as well start– what’s a prayer walk?

Well, you know, I didn’t have a clue what–

You might want to wait until you get up to the microphone or they won’t even know what you’re saying.

I didn’t have a clue what a prayer walk was, not a clue, didn’t know, but I decided I’d come. And I had no plans. I didn’t know if I could walk. I had decided probably a week before that I was going to start walking every day. So I left my house and started down Main Street and got as far as the store and my knee gives completely out. I didn’t fall, but it sure stopped me in my track. And I stood there for quite some time thinking, how am I going to get home. I didn’t have my phone to call Steve. So I very carefully started walking again and I went around by the gas station and the city park and I slowly made my way home. Well, that was the end of my walking because I was afraid to walk until the prayer walk not too many days later. And I thought– I really don’t know why I went on the prayer walk because most times I would say, well, I can’t do that because my knee won’t work and I can’t walk. But I came, and I had no plan, didn’t know how to pray, who I was going to pray for. But we divided, Tim and me, in four different parts, and we each took a section. Luckily, my section was the section that I lived in. So we took off and I started down the hill towards the tracks. First thing, here comes a train. Sure. That’s just great. I was upset because a train had stopped me. Everybody else was going to get their walk done and be back and I’m going to be standing here waiting on this train. But as I stood there, I could feel the Holy Spirit saying, “Pray for those people on that train. Pray for all those railroaders that your husband, that you know because of your husband, all those railroaders that have been hurt through the years. Luckily, my husband was one of the few that was never hurt, but a lot of them who’re hurt could never could work again or whatever. But I stood there and prayed for those railroaders and before I knew it, the train was passed. I went across the tracks and I went by the little Pentecostal church down the street here, and I prayed for them. I didn’t even know if I could pray and walk at the same time [laughter]. Lot of things, I can’t do at the same time. But every house I walked by, I knew most of those people and I knew exactly how to pray for them. Somebody I knew had had cancer and survived that so I prayed for her, her family. I prayed for all the cancer survivors and victims as I went through town. I knew exactly who lived in town. I knew exactly how to pray for them, and it was easy. I mean, I just prayed and walked, and I never thought about my knee again, about how I might not make it. A lot of things happened on that prayer walk. A lot of things I can’t begin to tell you. That day, it was really overwhelming and when we got back to the church and started telling– I can’t wait to go again. I really can’t wait. But it taught me a lot about because I live here in town and because I’ve lived here all my life and I do know a lot of the people, you get kind of blind to what’s around you when you see it every day. But that prayer walk really opened my eyes to really look and notice my neighbor and to know how to pray for my neighbors and not to just drive by and not see them or not notice what they’re going through. So it was definitely a blessing that day, and I thank God that I got to go on that walk.

Thank you. If you will pay attention. God will speak to you. I’ve already shared that God is working in our midst. Here’s what I want to suggest. When we notice God at work, it touches our hearts and causes us to love God more and more. The commandment is that we should love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And when you open your eyes– and the Holy Spirit will help you open your eyes. When you open your eyes, you can see God working and you can see the needs for prayer. And you can be part of the prayers for God to love the people around you. When you notice God at work, when the Holy Spirit shows you God at work, your love for God will deepen and grow. But not only that. What is God’s work? It’s God’s desire to love the people. And when you notice God loving people, you want to love them, too. You want to cooperate as God loves people. The second half of the commandment is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. If you want to do God’s will, it’s both of these. And when you open your eyes to see God at work, you will see how much God loves you, but you’ll also see how God is loving other people and you then begin to pray for them because, particularly, if you live in this town, you know the people and how they hurt. You know the people and how happiness comes to them. You know it’s this person’s birthday. You know it’s that couple’s anniversary. Your heart opens up when you pray, and God’s love flows through you into the lives of others. Acts 1:4. And while staying with them – this is before the day of Pentecost – Jesus charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said you heard from me. Verse five. For John baptized with water, but for many days, you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will surround you. The Holy Spirit will fill you. The Holy Spirit will flow into you and overflow out of you. And that’s how God works through us.

What do we see when that happens? Well, some of you are farmers. I know you have never planted corn and gotten beans. I know you have never planted beans and gotten corn. What you sow, you’re going to reap. So if the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and generosity and trustworthiness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that’s what’s coming toward you from God. That’s how God loves you, with great kindness and gentleness, but not only that. As God fills you up with that, it’ll overflow into the lives of other people. If you want to hear what the Spirit is saying to you, the Spirit is saying, “Be joyful. Be loving. Make peace. Be kind.” When the Spirit fills us, this is this what flows out to other people. And it changes the lives of everybody around us. Jesus goes on to say, verse eight, that, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea, all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth, going outward from where you live.” The very first place for God to use us is right here, and then to spread out from there.

I know where this picture came from. This is a homeless person on a Sunday morning in the streets of Minneapolis. The wind chill is 40 below 0. You know what’s in that cup? Love. There’s something hot, huh? Coffee is in that cup. Now, I’m a kind of intellectual guy. What I would love to do is take a sermon and fold it up really tiny and put it in that cup because we all know that sermons are good, right [laughter]? Sermons are good but sometimes people don’t need words. They need love. We have some little New Testaments. And by the way if you don’t have a New Testament if you don’t have a bible in your purse if you don’t have a bible with you if you don’t have a bible to give to someone else who needs it, I just bought 50 of them. So that you can have one not only to read for yourself but you can give away and I could fold that New Testament up and stick it in that cup because everybody knows the bible is what people need. But what if this person can’t read? Sometimes people need to read the bible in the form of a person who lives it because they can’t read the print in the bible.

I will tell you with the greatest sincerity scientists have studied this. Wherever you find that a person has been genuinely converted to Christ what you will find is that their closest friend is a living, practicing example of what it means to be a Christian. And the greatest reason why the church is declining – why there are fewer people attending – is because there are lots of people out there who don’t know anyone who in their presence, lives a genuine Christian life. Now, I’m not saying that you’re not living a genuine Christian life. I’m saying that we need to find ways for God to use us and live it out there. The whole focus of our denomination in so many churches is what we want to do is get all those people out there in here and then get to know them. When you think about it it makes sense. We save a lot of time if we don’t waste time with those people who aren’t already interested in church. Let’s only focus on the people who are in church. Let’s not look for the sheep that’s lost. Let’s focus on the ones that are here. And you know what happens? The number gets smaller and smaller.

Jesus wants us to love people who are there. And as much as I hate to admit it sometimes what they need is not a sermon. Sometimes what they need is not information. Sometimes what they most need is to meet a person that causes them to think this faith in Jesus must be real. Sometimes what they need is a loving caring person just like you at your best. There’s an old saying somebody told me a long time ago nobody knows– or excuse me, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” And I wanted to argue with this person, “No, it really is important that you know how much I know and that you care about how much I know.” And she smiled and said, “No, I don’t want to know what you know until I know that you care.” And so, therefore, when we are out there and in here when we’re out there, let the spirit flow. Because as you walk down the street, as you’re stopped by the train, whether you’re in your car or walking, instead of cussing out the train– you might do that from time to time unless you’re a perfect person. You might pray for those railroads. Maybe you know someone who is [inaudible]. The Spirit will give you opportunities to pray for people. You’ll walk by a house. You’ll know that that person went through a difficult illness. You can pray for them and the Spirit will flow out of your heart toward them. But you know something? If they’re out in the yard raking, you can walk up to them and say hi and they’ll feel that love in the same way. Sometimes the most important witness that people need are not our words, but simply for us to be the loving people that Christ asked us to be.

Now I would love to change that commandment. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and preach at your neighbor until they come to church. I want to make that change, but God knew what God was doing when God said, “The main thing I want you to do is love me, love yourself, and love your neighbor.” And we seem to want to go right past that to all kinds of other things that we think are more important. I have a good friend who’s now in heaven. Jack Kaley was the football coach at Eastern Illinois University. He said, “Dave, we always began the first practice of the season– we’d line up the whole team and I’d stand in front of them and I’d say, ‘This is a football.” Because he said you never want to begin anywhere except at the beginning. Brothers and sisters, this is the beginning. The commandment is that we love one another, that we love ourselves, and our neighbor as ourselves. The songs we sing are a way to do that. The sermons you hear are a way to do that. Even the coffee in the kitchen is a way that we do that. And what we do that loves people spreads out from here and, when it happens out there, the Holy Spirit will use the loving prayers that come out of your heart and bring warmth and faith into the lives of people all around you. Some of them will go be a permanent Deacon in the Catholic church or they’ll go back to the Baptist church, but you know it doesn’t matter. It was our job to love them and it’s still our job to love them. That is our version as the church of, “This is a football.” We’re here to love people and to let God love people through us.

So this is what Pentecost is about. God’s power flows into us not to stop there. God’s power flows into us so that God’s power can flow out among us. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, on the day of Pentecost you had prepared the people of Israel for over three years. You had gotten them ready. They had information about you, but on the day of Pentecost, Lord, everything that you had done all of the sudden blossomed and thousands of people came to Christ. And the disciples that you had trained were ready to take care of them and teach them how to love one another. And now, Lord, thousands of years later, we ask that you’d open our hearts and teach us in the same way how to love one another, how to allow the Holy Spirit to nudge our attention to what you’re doing in the lives of people around us so that we can pray for them. Maybe we can lend a hand. Maybe just so that they know that when they go through difficult days they are not alone. And so, Lord, I pray that Pentecost would come to this church and that your love and grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit, would flow through us to all those around this church. And we ask this is in Jesus’ name. Amen. Let’s stand and sing. Please sing this as a prayer. [music]

 

Posted in aSermons 2018 | Leave a comment

Transcription details: Audio 05 13 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 05 13 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 05 13 2018.mp3

 

Transcription results:

 

this is my mother. I had to count back, and suddenly I realized this was 25 years ago. That’s the basement of the Centenary United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. My mother fled Texas for a short period of time but then decided she never wanted to be in the winter in Illinois ever again [laughter]. So she went back down to Texas. But for a while, she lived just a few miles from us. And my mother was not perfect. We have to start right off at the bat. Some people do not have perfect mothers. In fact, a few people really have had mothers who are quite awful. But usually, when one cannot fulfill the task of mother, somebody else steps up for us to get the mothering that we need.

And every woman who mothers is different. My mother had her own unique set of characteristics. You can see the ironing board. That’s to remind me to tell you that when I was in fifth grade, my mother said, “Dave, you need to learn how to iron a shirt.” Now my mother was one who made all my clothes for me. And I said, “Mom, why in the world do I need to learn how to iron a shirt? I’m a fifth grader.” She said, “Son, it’s time for you to learn to iron a shirt.” And finally, I gave in and she taught me to iron a shirt. And I said, “Mom, why? I’m in fifth grade. Why do I need to know how to iron a shirt?” She said, “It’s very simple. When you grow up, I don’t want you to marry the first girl who offers to iron your shirts [laughter].” Now, I have no idea where that came from but it was important to her. I needed to hold out for someone who was more than a good ironer. She never did specify what else I needed but this was important to her because mothers teach us. And I can go on and on and on because still to this day there’s a certain way my mother felt about things. I cannot go against it because they have a good influence on us.

This is what it was like to be mothered in the 60s. I actually had a suit like that. I outgrew it six months later, but I still had to wear it for several more years [laughter]. But this is the way mothering was in the good old days because it’s Easter Sunday, your mother gets up early, and every single hair has to be in place. Everything needs to be just so. And you see a little girl like this? She wants a mud puddle so bad. But her momma is going to make sure they all go to church on Easter Sunday and everything is perfect, right down to the gloves and the hat. So the old-fashioned mothers, they were controlling, and so we tended to rebel against them. We said, “You’re not mothering me. You’re smothering me.” Nonetheless, an aspect of their controlling was for our own good. In the spring of 1980, I was pastoring a church in the inner city of Louisville, a poor white church on the edge of the ghetto and because of pastoral changes, I had to move out of the parsonage that I lived in in the slum, but I wasn’t done with school yet so I had to find someplace to live. And believe it or not, I was welcomed into a Roman Catholic nunnery. Roman Catholic nuns who were in the poor neighborhood. They had a house and they had a spare room in the house so that’s where I stayed for a couple of weeks. It was very nice of them. But sitting around the table, the supper table, I would ask them, “Why are you here and what are you doing?” And what they said is, “The reason we’re here is because poor people aren’t just poor anymore. They’re poverty-stricken.” You understand the difference? 50 years ago when you were poor, you still had someone, your mother, your grandmother who made certain that your clothes were clean. 50 years ago you still had someone whether it was a mother or a grandmother who made sure you had food to eat. But as the nuns explained it to me in 1980 and friends, it’s just gotten worse. Today, children are dealing with being poverty-stricken, in a good family. Both the mom and the dad are working part-time jobs to try to pay the rent, and the children have to fend for themselves. Or maybe mom is addicted to drugs, or maybe mom is mentally ill, or maybe mom is just gone, or maybe mom is lazy and irresponsible. But what happens is children have to fend for themselves. And I’ll be honest with you, they don’t do a very good job of it. But not only that, when they have to be adults too soon, they generally reach adulthood with some adult characteristics and some child characteristics, and very sadly they often become the kind of mother or father that they had.

These particular children are refugees from Hurricane Katrina. This picture was taken in 2012, They are taking care of themselves while their parents looked for work. they’re not doing a very good job of it. There is a tremendous lack of mothering in our culture today. Because mothers who used to have all the time in the world now have no time. Mothers are focused on things other than being mothers like being at the makeup counter and getting everything looking just right. There is a great need for mothering today Because we’re raising children who will become nightmares as adults unless the get the mothering that they need. Therefore, I want to make the suggestion. Jesus said, “This is the commandment.” Now, commandment. Not a suggestion. Commandment, not a tip. Commandment, something we should do. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But how exactly do we do that? How exactly do we meet the  need that our neighbors have. How exactly do we mother our neighbors? Since I don’t know how to explain that very well, I’m going to let Kim explain it.

[silence]

Well, I know David has a story he wants me to tell here, but I got to tell you something first. In my chair this morning, as I was talking with the Lord, it’s Mother’s Day, and as most of you know, I have not given birth to any children. And Mother’s Day, for the last 25, 30 years, has not been particularly easy for me because there was always the dream. There was always the expectation that I would be a mother. And so this morning, I woke up and I was going about my normal routine. I was ironing his shirt. Yes. He found a woman that irons for him [laughter]. The mother would be so happy, and it wasn’t the first woman that you met [laughter]. It’s funny. So I’m going about that, and I was very quiet this morning. I gave him his breakfast. I ironed his shirt. I went about my morning, but everything was just very quiet. He kept trying to talk to me and it was just very quiet. And finally about the time that I get in the shower, he asked something about what’s wrong or something, and I said, “It’s Mother’s Day. Hello? Come on. How dense can you be? It’s Mother’s Day. You know it’s the day that sucks for me. You know it’s hard for me. How can you be so obtuse and think, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ It’s Mother’s Day.” So he quietly just went about his way and came over to church and then I was left alone with the Lord. And so the Lord and I had some time talking to one another, and I hear the Lord saying this morning, “Are you ready to get over it yet? Are you ready to get over it yet? Your life isn’t all about you. It’s not all about you. It’s about what will you do with me, and what will you do for me?”

So there is a joy in my heart this Mother’s Day. I get to go see my mom. I get to spend this afternoon with my mother, and I’m really excited about that. And because of David’s previous marriage, I am a grandmother. I am a stepmother, and I am blessed with that. And you know what? That’s okay. But beyond that, I know that God uses me to mother other people, to show love, and to show compassion, and to carry his love to other people. And one of those things that God had me do was to organize a prayer walk. I had made the mistake of telling our district superintendent, “I think I need to pray more. I feel called to prayer more.” Well, I get phone calls like you wouldn’t believe of, “Hey Kim, how about you do this for prayer and how about you do this for prayer?” And one of those things was the Bishop’s initiative. He wanted, across the district, for several churches to come together at the same time to be doing a prayer walk in their community. And if around the district we were all doing it together at the same time, it would be a mighty prayer that would be raised up to God. And it was to pray for our communities, for our neighbors, and for God’s work to happen the way that he wants it to, that whatever it is that’s holding him back, whatever that’s binding his hands, that we pray that all of those things be broken and that God have his will. And there were several that joined me on that prayer walk this morning, and I know that all of us have amazing wonderful stories of how God spoke to us during that time. And we were not to go up and knock on doors. We were not to be intrusive in any way. Our purpose was not, “Hey. Let’s get a whole bunch of people to come into our church.” It was just about our hearts and going out and just praying for whatever was happening in that house. And Lord, whatever is happening in that house, you know what’s going on. Meet that person just kind of wherever they are. And as I’m out walking there was a woman who was out working in her yard, and the Lord was like, “Okay. So go up and ask how you can pray for her.” Okay. well, I’ve never met her so I just go up and, “Hi. My name is Kim and I’m doing a prayer walk this morning, and is there any way that I can pray for you?” And so she’s like, “Well, yes. Actually, my aunt is going through breast cancer right now,” and so she told me the story of how she’s doing and how she needs prayer. And so I said, “well, is it okay if I pray with you right now?” So we joined hands together and I said a prayer. And having been around my husband for as long as I have, he’s rubbing off on me because I started the prayer with “Dear Lord Jesus.” And so after the prayer was over, she asked me, “Why do you pray to Jesus? Why don’t you pray to Father or the Holy Spirit or?” And so then it made me stop and think and it’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” And s I said, “Well, I know my husband always talks about Jesus,” and so we sat and we had a nice conversation about what method is belief and why we believe what we believe. And I was also able to say, “My husband loves these questions like this and if you ever want to talk to him, he’ll be able to explain it far better than I can ever explain it, but I’ll give it my best.” And it was just a lovely time of meeting someone that I had never met before and having an opportunity to pray with her and to pray for her, and I’ve continued to pray for her aunt and I’m so pleased that she is doing so much better. And I am thankful for that.

[silence]

I have a little bit of arthritis in my hips so I don’t go prayer walking, but I do volunteer at the library. And it took a while to put all the pieces together, but the young lady that Kim spoke with came into the library one day and said something about playing guitar and my ears just perked right up. And so she’s been coming to the Guitar 101 class. And I don’t wish to embarrass her, but she’s right there [laughter]. First day in church, here, with us. First day in church and she sang in the choir. What a wonderful start. Sheri, we are so glad you’re here. If you go out for a walk, God can use you. It’s as simple as that. You breathe in when you’re in your prayer chair. In the passage that is what the disciples are told before the day of Pentecost which is next Sunday. It says in Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” Because the Holy Spirit is with you, you can understand the scriptures. You sit in your prayer chair and you pray, and that’s like breathing in. Whenever I do a wedding, I remind all of the bridesmaid and the bride, “Be sure to remember during the wedding   to keep breathing [laughter]. Now, I’m actually not kidding. When people are very anxious and nervous, they tense up and they hold their breath. And kind of as a joke but kind of as a serious warning, I say, “You need to keep breathing because if you stop breathing, you will fall down [laughter].” Now, breathing in is important, so I’d like to invite you to all breathe in, only this time, don’t breathe out. You ready? Breathe in. I almost fell down [laughter]. When you breathe in, you can’t breathe in some more until you breathe out. When you breathe in in your prayer chair, you need to find an opportunity to breathe out what God has given you. And so the disciples are told, “I want you to spend this time, the 49 days between Easter and Pentecost– I want you to spend this time praying and waiting for the promise of the Father.” Jesus said, “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” See, the Holy Spirit comes into us, and then the Holy Spirit is ready to flow out from us. We need both. God’s power flows into us. God’s power flows out from us.

In John 7:37, one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible, Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let them come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture has said out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Where does the falls come from? Water flows into it. It comes into the pool, but it has to flow out of the pool. What is that living water? Here’s what John 7:39 says. Now, this he said about the Spirit which those who believe in him were to receive. In other words, on the day of Pentecost. “For as yet, the Spirit had not been given in this way.” The Spirit flows in as you’re praying. The Spirit needs to flow out in order for you to be healthy. “Come to me and drink,” Jesus says. This is what you do when you’re in your prayer chair. Your chair time fills you up as you breathe God’s spirit in. But then, you need to go out into the neighborhood and let God’s spirit use you.

Now, here’s the wonderful thing. You don’t have to go up and beat on someone’s door. You don’t have to stand in the street and stop someone who is driving down the street. Please don’t have an argument like that with a truck. It doesn’t work. If you just simply go out there, the Holy Spirit will arrange for you to see the people you need to see, for you to talk to the people that you need to talk to because whatever it is that you do, you are cooperating with God, and God is doing the heavy lifting. To use the metaphor that Jesus uses, you’re the light of the world. And when you go out into

darkness. It’s quite clear that you’re a light. The people you’re supposed to talk to will come up to you. You have a micro-mission field. It’s the people who are willing to talk to you. If you’re a mean person, there’s not very many, but there’s still somebody whom God wants to work through you to help them in their life. How do you know who they are? When you go out there, they come up to you. When you say hello, they begin to talk to you. When you say, “Is there some way I can pray for you?” Sometimes, they’ll say, “Fine. I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong,” but sometimes there’ll be a need, and then you can pray for them. If you just simply go out there, the people you’re supposed to love on will come up to you. There’s a whole lot of churches that are really, really focused on trying to get those people to come here and for church people to only talk to them while they’re in the church building. That’s kind of a little silly.

The Great Commission says for you to go and, if you just simply go out there, the people that God wants you to help will come up to you and you can be loving, and peaceful, and joyful, and kind, and gentle, and the Holy Spirit will work through those things to change the lives of the people you interact with. You breathe in when you pray. When you go out into the neighborhood, you breathe out as you talk to people. That’s all that it takes. It’s enough simply to be friendly because God can use your friendliness to love your neighbor. And if you can mother your neighbor, maybe it will fill in some of those holes, and gaps, and empty places that people need so much help with. We all know them.

I am a sinner. See. The people you go out and you interact with are like that little kid. Scares me to death to see how close he is to that edge. Not okay. I don’t know who that woman is, but she’s a mother. Whether she’s that baby’s mother or not, she’s standing there holding that child to keep that child safe. That’s who you are when you go out there. You’re like the presence of the Lord Jesus in a human body, someone who they can see, and touch, and talk to. And because you show them that you care, they can say that God cares. And perhaps someday they’ll pray the same prayer you prayed, “Please by my Shepherd, my Savior, and my Lord.” We all need to be loved.

Amen.

So I want to invite you to go with the flow, breathe in, breathe out, go down the street. If you walk all around the block and not a single person is out, that’s fine because you made yourself available. Make yourself available. Go with the flow and mother your neighbor as yourself. It’s how we breathe out. Lord Jesus, thank you so much for all of us who come here on Sunday to get filled up. Help us to realize, Lord, that what goes in needs to flow out. Help us to be sensitive to your spirit, bringing people up to us so that we can bless their life, so that we can say hello, so that we can be friendly, so that we can pray for them when they have needs, and so that we can be thankful with them when you answer our prayers. Lord, thank you for filling us up. Help us to be people and simply let your love, and joy, and peace flow out upon our neighbors. We need your love, oh Lord.

We’re going to do something brave and daring. We are going to sing this song without the piano and the organ. If you don’t know how to sing it, learn it. We’ll just keep doing it over, and over, and over til everybody gets it. If I start it too high, I’ll restart it. I’ll keep starting it over and over until I get it. But as you’re singing, please notice the meaning of the song. God notices everything that is happening in the lives of our neighbors and God notices everything that happens in your life. What’s missing is that we also need to notice what God notices. Please stand. If you’re scared, hold hands. We’ll get through this

 

Posted in aSermons 2018 | Leave a comment

Transcription details: Audio 05 06 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 05 06 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 05 06 2018.mp3

 

Transcription results:

 

we are back to the commands of Jesus. This is from Matthew 6:1, to where now Jesus is going to teach us what holiness means, what is needed from us in terms of our piety, in terms of what we do that is spiritual. And the first command is just simply this one: beware. It’s a warning. Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them. For then, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. In fact, this is the theme throughout this whole chapter. And then Jesus gives an example that is just so unfamiliar it’s almost hard for me to imagine what it would be like. Here’s what he says. Verse two. When you give alms, when you give money at the temple, when you give money to the offering, when you give money to someone who is in need, sound no trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be praised by men. I do not understand this, but I’d like to ask you to help me understand it. Are you ready? Here’s my dollar, and unfortunately I did not pay Cathy $5 to be ready to play a trumpet thing for me [laughter] because you know those trumpeters. They don’t do that for free. But I thought I would ask you to sort of be the trumpets for me so I can see if I can understand this. So when you see the dollar head toward the offering plate, I would like you to applaud and cheer. Are you ready? Let’s see if I can get it. Ready? [applause] Maybe I understand a little bit of it. Would some of you shout, “Way to go Dave [laughter],” while you’re applauding, cheering? Are you ready? [applause]

Way to go.

Maybe I kind of get a little bit of it now. Okay. Okay. Now, what I want you to do is shout as loud as you can, “You are so awesome [laughter].” Are you ready? Because this is what I’m paying for. [applause]

Yay. Awesome. Awesome. Yay.

Wow. Okay, maybe I understand it better now [laughter]. Although, to be honest, I still don’t really understand. What kind of person needs that kind of affirmation? Now, maybe we all do. But what is it about the Pharisees, the hypocrites, the people that Jesus are talking about that makes them want to be like this? And I began to think, “What is it like to be part of a group watching them?” And it occurred to me it might be a little bit like this. The more you tell me how wonderful you are, the worse I feel about myself because that person who wants to tell you how perfect their life is, they really have no understanding how they make you feel. Someone has just lost their mother. Hey, I’m going with my mother to the mother-daughter banquet this Saturday. How does that make somebody feel you’ve heard about the latest things my kids have done because they’re much smarter than yours. Have you ever had anybody do that? How do you like my new outfit? I like it so much better than you. Remind me to help you to learn better how to put makeup on. I’m not saying that, but women, if you ever felt someone. Another woman comes up to you and she is so proud of how good looking she is that she wants to make you certain that she thinks you’re ugly. Has anybody ever, by bragging on how wonderful they are, made you feel smaller or more ugly? I understand that sometimes happens with churches too that there are people who would come up to other people and basically say, “My pastor is a lot cuter than yours.”

Mine’s a lot taller.

There’s a good answer. My pastor’s a lot thinner than yours. My pastor’s better looking. My church is bigger and it’s shinier, and it’s newer, and we have five drummers in the praise brand. They go on and on and on but even though they’re winning in a sense, almost it sounds like they were wanting to give glory to God. Look at everything that God is doing in my church all you here under their breath is not in yours. [inaudible] I wonder if that’s this kind of thing because I think people like this, honestly, I think they may just feel that, and they absolutely simply don’t realize it. So [inaudible] wondering where does this come from, and this morning, it kind of paving where I’m from. We all used to be that cute and people we don’t even know would come up and say, “Honey, you are so cute.” After I turn 30, no one ever did that anymore. But deep down inside, I think for a lot of us, there’s still that little child that wants to be told, “You are so wonderful.” And maybe didn’t get told that enough. What happens to that little child that then get pulled that enough as they move on toward adulthood and they begin to see this kind of attention, they begin to see this kind of affirmation, what does it get life? And here’s the answer of the paving. In 1964, there was a thing called Beatlemania. Before that, they didn’t call it that but there was Elvismania, and before that, there was Frank Sinatramania. I thought to myself, this child, if they got everything they wanted, it would be all these pretty girls around just going, “You’re so awesome and amazing.” Because what this child wants is attention. What this child wants is affirmation. Just look at their expressions on their face. If somebody looks at me like that, I must really be special. As my dad got older, remember you grew up in a town where nobody told you that they like you. As my dad got older, he would go up to strangers and tell them stories about his life because he wanted them to tell him how special he was. And my mom was a very shy, introverted person and she did not understand this at all. There were a few years my mom and dad lived in an Airstream trailer, and my dad would move into a campground and he would go around and tell everybody how wonderful he was. And a week later when he had told everybody his story and it was time for him to listen to their story, he’d pick up the trailer and they’d move to the next campground. And my mom finally said, “Your dad may be a little anxious. He may be a little insecure, but he reminds me of a little boy and I think what he wants is a fan club.” I think that person having the horns blow wants a fans club. And I got to thinking, “What are the emotions that the fans give you?” And I came up with something that makes me feel very uncomfortable. Here’s the thing and I think human beings like about a fan club, what they’re receiving is worship. Let that sink in. That’s worship. Those guitar players up on the stage and that Ringo fella, they are like my God and I’m here and I’m ready to worship them. It’s worship. Ten Commandments. We shall have no other Gods before me. These girls would explain to you that Beatles don’t count. But sadly, that needy person, I think what they hunger for is for someone deep down inside to worship them. They are very [flawed?]. I think they want to be worshiped. But the thing that we know is worship is only for God. And that’s the problem with this kind of behavior. Worship is only for God. Let me ask you a question that I know you all are not quite ready for yet. So the adult that grows up wanting this, a fan club, wanting worship, they turn out to be an adult that’s a little bit like this, “We all know that I’m better than you. Why don’t you admit it? Admire me. Worship me. Tell me I’m special. Notice me.” Do you know anyone like this? Are they fun to be around [laughter]? Well, not that [inaudible]. But that’s how they look at us. There is a neediness in people today for attention and validation because quite often, people feel so unimportant that it’s like they feel that they don’t exist unless someone else is paying attention to them. They are saying continuously, “Notice me. Please, notice me.” If you’re like me, I’ll confess, you whip your cell phone out 100 times a day to pull up Facebook, to find out if somebody, what? Likes you hey, I put that cute little cat video up this morning. It’s been five minutes, has anybody liked it yet? Darn. Only 50 people. And it’s like we keep score. Do people really like me? So we find another cat video because you always need more cat videos or more whatever. And we are constantly checking our phones to see if people like what we said because we have this need to be liked that is sometimes extremely deep and profound. And here’s the problem with this. What the little boy say before there’s an injury? “Look at me.” And then? Some parents are afraid when their kids start driving. I was never afraid. I raised three sons, I was never afraid when they started driving. Every single one of them was better drivers than me. But what scared me to death was giving them a bicycle because now they were too fast for me to run and catch them. And I still remember my oldest son daring the other boys in our little neighborhood in Quincy, he was faster than they were, so he took off and they took off and they were racing down the street. And before even a half a block he was way ahead of them and he was looking back at them, and he was laughing, and laughing, and laughing because they were behind, and then he drove straight into the front of a parked van. And I said to myself, “I got to take his bike away till he’s 16 [laughter].”

But see, this is a human problem we all have but the more you want someone to like you, the more you want someone to validate you, the more you look to someone other than God to appreciate you, it’s just like, “Look at me.” Something bad is going to happen. Something bad is going to happen. So beware. Jesus says watch out for this desire for the attention and validation of others. Beware. Verse Two. [Inaudible] when you give alms, sound no trumpet. Do not ask for the attention, approval of others. Sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets. For what purpose? They want the praise of other people. That’s what they really want. Here’s what Jesus says in turn, “Truly I say to you, they receive their reward.” It’s not that God is punishing them, it’s that God looks into their hearts and God sees what they really want. All they wanted was the approval of others. So God lets them have what they want. It’s not a part of their heart to desire approval from God. But what Jesus says is that what we want to live is in what you could call a no blow your own horn zone specifically, verse 3 he says is, “When you give alms,” when you give money, when you give something good, when you do a good deed, when you act kindly, “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” I’m not quite sure exactly what that means, but the do not let know is pretty clear because here is the whole point, verse 4. So that your alms, so that your kindness, so that your good deeds, may be of secret because guess what? When there are a secret, your Father who notices everything, your Father who sees what is done secretly, your Father will reward you. If that’s what you want, all you have to do is keep quiet. God notices everything.

Now this no-blow-your-own-horn zone concept, it requires some thought and prayer. When we need to ask ourselves, who is it that we really want to notice us? Because if what we want is for God to notice us, then we need to repent from this very human thing of wanting other people to tell us how special we are. We want to have a different perspective and mind set because what we want is for God to tell us how special we are. And the parable of the talents for Matthew 25, what the master says to the servants is, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” That’s what we want to hear from God. And Jesus says if you want to hear that, then don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Just do good. Let God notice.

You know what’s in that cup? You’ve heard me say this before. What’s in that cup on a day in Minneapolis when it’s 30 degrees below zero wind chill is hot coffee, but it’s not just coffee. What’s in that cup is love, and joy, and peace. And I see you. I care about you. I notice you. You’re important to me. What’s in that cup is patience, and kindness, and generosity. What’s in that cup is trustworthiness, and gentleness, and self-control. Let the good things you do pile up. And let God notice. A lot of good will come from us letting God notice. Shh, shh.

Dear God, please fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff. Please fill my hands with my time, with worthwhile deeds. The Lord [inaudible] [thee?] when I said enough. Thank you all. Lord Jesus, may we notice you so that we can sense your voice inside our hearts, saying, “That cold person needs a hot cup of coffee. That lonely person needs us to say hello to them. That person who feels down on themselves needs us to compliment in some way that lifts their spirits.” Help us Lord to notice others and not have our focus be on asking them to notice us. Amen

 

 

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Transcription details: Audio 04 29 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 04 29 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 04 29 2018.mp3

 

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this is how we watch football these days, up and from above because from the height you can see what’s happening on one side of the field while there’s a faint and a distraction on the other side of the scrimmage line. Overview means that everything is clear. It means we understand. Not that I understand football, but if it wasn’t like this I wouldn’t understand anything. Down on the field, it’s quite different. All this man sees is 11 big guys running straight toward him. It’s a very complicated thing down at eye level and life is very complicated down at eye level. We don’t always see or understand what is actually going on. This has been brought home so genuinely to me in the past few weeks. God arranges things. Work through other people behind the scenes, unknown to us, but what we see is not always what we would see if we had the overview. We’ve been talking this month and going through Easter and about how new life is possible for everyone and I thought I would take a moment in the current sermon series to just stop and explain how new life can come to everyone. From that time, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” You’ve heard me say this almost every Sunday since January. To repent means to change your mind. It is a change in perspective. You see things the way God sees them and often you see what you have not done right and so you feel regret, but the main concept behind repent is there’s going to be a change and God is with it and often behind it. The very first encounter the disciples had with Jesus was one just like this. John 1:38. John the Baptist had been walking along with two of his disciples when he saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and these two disciples with John were curious, so they came up and Jesus turned and saw them following after him and he said to them, “What do you seek? What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi,” which means teacher, “Where are you staying?” And Jesus said, “Come and see.” The very first phase of life in faith is when Jesus says, “Come and see.” “Come and see if my words aren’t true. Come and see if this is not a good thing, a good place. Come and see.” And they literally begin to hang out with Jesus, spending time with him. They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day. As a result of that fellowship with Jesus, Andrew found his brother Simon and said, “Hey, we have found the Messiah,” which means Christ, and he brought Peter to see Jesus and Peter began to hang out with Jesus. Right after this, they go to a wedding they spend time with each other. This is the beginning. But if for us to just get to know and be with and hang out with Jesus was all there was about following Jesus Christ, we would not need the rest of the New Testament. And again, there are many people who get to this stage because they love coming to church. They love being with other wonderful people they’ve found in church. They love the church being the center of the community, but it’s still in many places at this level, where people who are friends of God. Being a disciple is a little more. Here’s where that starts. As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea where they were fishermen. They already knew Jesus. They had spent hours and days in his presence. But now he’s going to ask them to do something different. Verse 19 and he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Now, this is the overview. This is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry of making disciples and when he looks on into the future, he says, “Follow me and I will teach you to fish for people.” That also means, “Be with me.” That’s the, “Come and see,” part. It also means, “Learn from me,” because of course, a disciple is a student who has a teacher. It also means, “Pattern yourself after me. Do what I tell you to do.” It means, “Obey me.” And Jesus could have said any of those things but what he said was, “Follow me and I’m going to the rest of my life here on earth. Follow me and I’m going to teach you how to fish for people.” That’s the overview. You can see how everything fits together in the overview. If you began to read the New Testament, every word of Jesus from this moment forward Jesus said is to teach them how to fish for people. Every word. It connects in some way. And then the very last words before the [inaudible] part of the great commission, Jesus gives the overview and looks back. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” What does that mean? “I’m the boss. I’m the Lord.” What does the Lord want you to do? Verse 19. “Go. Go therefore and make disciples.” Remember he’s been teaching them how to do that now his entire time with them. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Verse 20. This is very important. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded and, lo, I am with you always, to the close of the this is the old you looking back but how do you think they become disciples? If someone teaches you the commands of Jesus, by the time you are keeping them you are a disciple. And then, if you teach those commands of Jesus to someone else as they begin to keep them they will be a disciple and the cycle will just repeat again and again and again. Every command of Jesus at its root is part of Jesus’ mission to fish for people, Jesus’ method of making disciples. When you obey you become a disciple and then become a disciple maker. When they are taught to observe all the commands they become disciples and that leads us to the biggest problem. Who took you by the hand as a church member and taught you one by one each of the commands of Jesus and how you could live by them? Who did that? To be honest, I have to tell you most people would have to say, “Noone did.” I heard lots of good sermons. Aren’t their summons great [laughter]? I heard lots of good singing, [got in?] some awesome potlucks but keep in mind folks, that’s the hangout with Jesus part. Churches today that seem to focus on having a good time with each other and with Jesus there’s one thing sadly they all have in common, they’re all getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller because churches get bigger when the people who attend them follow Jesus and become disciples. Let me give you an example that’s pretty close to home so do me a favor and don’t tell anyone down in Salem that I told this story, okay? There is a church in Salem, I won’t tell you which one but you may already know, all of a sudden bang, things started to happen in that church and like a giant vacuum cleaner they sucked almost every teenager out of every other church in Salem because all of the teenagers wanted to go to that hot cool church. By the way, have you ever noticed teenagers wanting to rebel against their parents’ church and go off and do their own thing? Have noticed that before? So here there’s one church in Salem that seems to have almost most of the youth and the other churches are all scratching their heads and going, “Well, what’s going on?”. So they begin to look into it and you know what they found out? That church where all the kids wanted to go they had a gym. One of the first things I found out when I moved to this area going to Salem drive past the other churches, son of a gun, every single one of them now has a gym. That’s one of the hanging out with Jesus problems. If they have all those kids because they have a gym then we need a gym too. Does that make sense? And they [have?] years and years of paying off that gym and some of them are not happy about that but could you imagine how–? I don’t want to say ignorant. I want to be nice. Can you imagine how naive it is to assume that what’s important [is?] it’s the gym and not the kind of people at that church. To assume that it’s not the way those people treat people, to assume that it’s not the way those people pray, those people worship, those people study, that there isn’t something about what God has done to those people that makes them attractive. Because if thought that, you might have to look at yourself, and you might have to change the way your church prays, and your church studies. But you don’t have to change anything if all you have to do is build a gym. And a million dollars later, you know what you got? An empty gym because it’s people that matter. And that’s where a small church has every bit of an advantage of the gigantic church because it’s people that matter. You people matter. You matter to God, and you matter to God’s plan because here’s the crazy thing, God decided to work through people just like you. Scares me to death. And all it feels like he would bet the farm on me. But God has chosen not to work through buildings. Buildings are nice. Don’t we have a beautiful building? God has decided to work through people. So Jesus takes people. He never built a gym. Jesus takes people, and he says, “Hey, listen to me. Follow me. Be with me, and I’m going to teach you how to fish for people.” And then three years later he says, “You spent all this time with me. Now everything I told you to do, you go teach other people to do.” That’s the [order?].

And I want to tell you friends for the future of this church, for anybody that might have a worry about this church or any other church, that answer is the same. It’s the people of God that matter, and you are the people of God, and God will work through you to the degree that you obey the commands of Jesus. And that brings us to the biggest problem. Someone was supposed to teach you something very specific, and what you got taught was a lot of wonderful sort of general knowledge of religion rather than do this, do this, do this, do this, and do this, every command, and all these commands that under this one. We’ve already heard it from [inaudible]. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. Luke adds, with all your strength. Verse 38, this is a great and first commandment. This is the first priority. We need to love God. The more we love God in a healthy way, the more that will draw people to God’s church. How do we do that? You need to spend in your chair.

By the way, if you look down, you’ll notice you’re sitting on a chair right now. This is your Sunday morning chair. But some time each day if you will pay time aside to work through the things that you need to do with God to pray over your day, your life, you will find that that time that you spend will deepen your spiritual life and strengthen you and you’ll begin to glow with the spirituality. I could spend five more hours talking about this but I won’t. Since you heard a great deal about this in the sermons late last summer and early fall, you kind of know what I’m talking about. By the way, that’s why this is here. You need to spend time praying in your chair because God will meet you when you take time to meet with God. Now, this is the first half, but see there’s the second half. A second is likened you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law in the prophets. And a skeptical lawyer says to Jesus when he tells this in Luke, “Who’s my neighbor?” Well, you need to ask that question yourself, “Who’s my neighbor?” Here’s what I would tell you. Anybody within 25 feet of you is your neighbor. Please look around wherever you sit, people in front of you, behind you, they’re your problem. It’s not exactly a joke. One of the things they do in large churches is they have the church board go out and sit in the church, and they’re always scattered all over the church. The pastor looks at the board of the church and says, “If a visitor comes within three pews of where you are, you are the church welcoming committee. And what you need to do is in a kind and gentle way, you just swarm them after the church.” Get ready Don and Tracey [laughter]. Those people behind you are coming for you [laughter]. Seriously, if you love your neighbor and we need to learn how to love our neighbor in a healthy and spiritual way, in a way that Jesus would [inaudible]. But if you love your neighbor, that will draw your neighbor to the God that you worship.

We talked about this, remember last fall. Prayer walking takes you out of your house, up and down the streets, to pray for the people you encounter. To pray for the people in their homes. If they’re out raking leaves you stop and visit. We did this. Some of you have some beautiful testimonies of what happened on that day. I don’t have time to let you share them but I just want to tell everybody, sometime we will. They will bless you. God arranges to put people in your path. And you can smile and you can say, “How are you?” And if everything is fine, you can say, “That’s wonderful.” And if something is not right you can say what I call the magic words, “I go to a church that prays for people, can we pray for you?” Now be honest, what are they going to say? But here’s the other half of that. When you come back and see that person again, now it’s a spiritual conversation because you’re talking about a God that answers prayer. We all have four neighborhoods. There’s our family and friends, there’s our interest and hobbies, the people we have fun with, things we do, people we do things with, go to a Cardinal game whatever it might be. There’s the places we serve, where we work or volunteer. And there’s our actual physical address all of those are our neighborhoods. Now, it is very unlikely that you will walk in your neighborhood all the way up to Quincy, though we all have family and friends that live at some distance, we keep praying for them too. For the people who God will use you to attract them, to entice them to come to faith themselves, they will be people you already know. The world already has too many people doing sermons. Friends, if sermons got people in, the church would be full because there’s one here every week. Fresh. Right out of the oven. We don’t need little mini preachers. People, if they love their neighbors, their neighbors will come to desire the faith that they have. You don’t need to debate, or argue, or defend. How has anyone ever argued with you and convinced you that they were right? But if you just simply love people, they will see something of heaven inside of you and they will want you. All this church lacks– we don’t actually lack it. We actually have it. But all this church needs is for more love for [inaudible]. The people that God is drawing to the church through you, they’re like moths. They’ll come to you like you’re a light shining in the darkness. They’ll approach you. Your mission field will come to you. Your neighbors or other people who you talk with on a weekly basis. And to do God’s will, it’s simply enough to be friendly. It’s enough to be friendly.

Something in addition – and we would be here for hours if I talked about this –  the way God deals with special problems is he gives people special abilities. When we need someone who knows how to fix breakfast for 500 people, God gives that gift to someone; we need to figure out who that is. Every single one of us has a gift. You need to know what yours is. And that’s how all the different little things– see, the big picture is love your neighbor. The little thing is, is if you’re really good at fixing gasoline engines; if the church has one that breaks, you’re the person. And that covers everything. This is a copy of The Bluejackets Manual, 1944. My father graduated from high school– and I’m beginning to think that it wasn’t 1944 but 1945, so I may have the wrong issue there, but his basic training came with a manual of every rule that he was supposed to follow: here’s how you wear your uniform; here’s how you wear your hat; here’s how you tie your kerchief. Everything was spelled out very, very clearly. Let me tell you something that aggravates me. Jesus says, great commission, all of these people who you make disciples of, you, you personally are supposed to teach them each of the commands of Jesus. I have been complaining about this since I started my doctoral program in 2000. And I’ll be honest with you. Now you can just kind of a little bit start to find on the internet some people are trying to do this.

But if we took what Jesus said seriously, you should be able to go into any Christian bookstore and pull a book off the shelf that would go page by page through each of the commands of Jesus. But I want to tell you honestly, friends, we still don’t have it. We have little bits and pieces about some of the commands and a lot of times people decide they like these 5 and they forget those 50. We have nothing that tries to teach people every command. We spend all our time arguing about things that Jesus never spoke about. No one has done this. But we here a building a manual week by week. I told you earlier that we were. But the sermons beginning in February, each one focuses on a single command of Jesus. If we begin to keep the commands of Jesus, God will begin to work through each of us and our church. And we will truly be what I call an ideal church, and that’s a church that is a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord, and people grow. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, it’s Easter. You have come to New Life, but you also, Lord, have come to bring new life. And then you told them very clearly, they were supposed to teach others the commands that you gave, and after that, Lord, amazing things happened, but within 100 years it seemed like everybody got confused and lost their way. Help us, Lord, in this church to pick up what you’ve asked us to do and think about it, pray about it, there in our chair, Lord, how do I live this command? Some of them will be easy. Some of them will be difficult. But help us, Lord, to be those people who put you on the throne of their life and grow to become more than people who love Jesus but also become people who follow Jesus. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen. Let’s stand and sing. [music]

 

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Transcription details: Audio 04 15 2018.mp3

Transcription details: Audio 04 15 2018.mp3

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 04 15 2018.mp3

 

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way back at the beginning of the new year, we started talking about how Jesus – Matthew 4:17 – Jesus began to preach saying this one word, repent, this is a command. We are to repent. But there’s a common misunderstanding about what repent means in our culture. Our culture thinks repent means to feel bad about what you’ve done. Our culture thinks that repent means, for example in Lent, in order to show that you’re sorry, you should give up chocolate. Now let’s be honest. Are you a better person without chocolate? There are people who give up coffee for Lent. People are not better people without their coffee. Repent is not about giving up. Repent is not about feeling sorry. The word literally in Greek means to open up your mind and think differently. It is to change your mind, to rethink, to realize a new perspective. And friends, I want to tell you, there’s nothing that will give you more of a change in perspective than to contemplate what it means for us to go through Easter. Romans, Chapter 6 – we’ve talked about this Easter Sunday – that because Jesus died upon the cross, we were there with him, and when Jesus rose from the dead by the glory of the Father – you’ll see that on the right there – you and I, we also, we too might walk in newness of life. Everyone has the opportunity for a new life, a new beginning. For you to go through Easter Sunday another year and for nothing to be different is a tragedy. Every year, when that day comes around, we should begin to rise up and walk in a new way. And in fact, any day can be the day that God would open our eyes and open our minds, and we would see what God wants us to see. Because if you see what God wants you to see, I want to tell you, you will begin to live a new life. Everything will be different when that newness of life rises up inside of you. On Palm Sunday I talked to you about what I found most impressive about Billy Graham. Billy Graham never claimed to be an expert about anything. Billy Graham did not even believe – trust me – that he was a good preacher, that he was a great preacher. But he said, “There’s one thing that I can do that is completely a blessing from God. I can issue an invitation, and people can hear it.” And we watched this little video about his life [inaudible] Bible study, and we were able to listen to lots of different ways that he issued an invitation over the years that he was doing this. And I noticed for the first time, in every single one what Billy Graham said could be boiled down to this: Whatever problem you have, when you we have a relationship with Jesus Christ he can solve whatever challenge you’re going through. You can give it to him because if you have a relationship with him he will help you see the way through. Friends, that invitation comes down to us every single day of the year. The answers that you seek, the solutions that you hope for, the way to live a happier and a better life however you might wish to define that. It is Jesus Christ because he is alive because he is alive within you that can show you the way forward. So whatever it is– now, if you ask my opinion I will share my opinion with you whether you want to or not you’ll hear about all kinds of books and all kinds of ideas and all kinds of other stuff. I may even say, “In the Greek, it says this.” But that the reality that I want to tell you is that you will get a better answer if you have a relationship with Christ and turn to him because he is your Lord. He is your Savior. He is the one that heals the multitudes. He is the one that takes care of his sheep. He is the one that is the source of your light. And so often we can not deceive.

Well, here’s what we do instead. We’ve been going through the commands in Matthew chapter 5 which are all about holiness. They’re all about the rules. And, again and again, Jesus will tell you, “You’ve heard it said of old,” and he would quote a rule and he would look at them and he would say, “This isn’t good enough anymore.” And you know why? Because people would spend all their time to find a way to use the rule to hurt somebody, to use the rule not to do good but to do evil. That’s the way our legal system works. If someone can manipulate the rules they can use the rules to hurt you and it happens every day. And so that tendency for human evil that is in all of us causes the problem of taking what God meant for good and we twist it and we use it to hurt other people and that’s become normal. And Jesus said, “That’s no longer good enough.” Now, you’ve heard it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” You know what that took the place of? “If you hurt me, I will kill everyone in your family.” So it was an improvement but that doesn’t mean that it’s good. And so Jesus took that rule and said, “Here’s the new rule. Here’s the rule–” actually, I’m not ready to go there just yet. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Eye for an eye, if that just keeps going around and around and around eye for an eye will only end up with the whole world blind because the cycle goes around and around and it never stops.” Here’s what Jesus said we should do, “I say you do not resist one who is evil but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Now, I’m not inviting you to go out and get into a fistfight so you can be hit on both cheeks. That would be pretty hard to deal with. The point that Jesus is trying to make is this: it is only mercy that stops the cycle of abuse. Somebody gives you the business. You give it right back. They give it to you. They give it back. It gets up and up. They bring their friends. You bring your friends. And before you know it, nations are at war. The only thing that stops the cycle of evil is mercy. Mercy. I’ll show you this picture. This is one of my favorite cartoons. I should probably have this tattooed on me somewhere. I’m 63 years old, by the way. You did not know me when I was in my 20s. I was the most argumentative guy you would ever have met. I carried around big books to hit people with. And over the years I’ve learned that this does not work. But do you see this guy here? He’s sitting in front of the computer, and his wife calls, “Are you coming to bed?” And he says, “I can’t. This is important.” “What’s important?” “Someone is wrong.” Friends, will he ever get to bed? Whether it’s on the Internet or anywhere else, will he ever be done staring people down, getting in an argument or a fight with him? Will it ever stop? I want to tell you, it will never stop until someone shows mercy. Mercy means letting a person like this have the last word. Mercy can even mean, “I’m not going to talk to you anymore.” That’s certainly a mercy to you. But only mercy stops this cycle. Only mercy. And so now, in this Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, this chapter about what is holiness, what is righteous, the difference between right and wrong– here’s where Jesus is going. This summarizes everything before. Matthew 5:43: “You’ve heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” That’s normal, isn’t it? But it’s not good. Verse 44: “But I,” Jesus, Jesus says to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” There are only two places in the New Testament that I have found where Jesus asks you to pray for something specifically. Now, there’s another place as he talks about how to pray, but there’s two places that Jesus says to the disciples, “I want you to pray this,” and this is one of them. Pray for people who persecute you. Friends, it’s not easy, but that’s what Jesus wants. It’s not easy. Jesus goes on to say, why? Why do you pray for those who persecute you? Why do you love your enemies? Verse 45: “So that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For He, your Father in heaven, makes the sun rise on the evil and the good.” That’s a mercy he causes rain to fall on the land of the just and on the unjust. That’s a mercy. Jesus goes on to say in verse 46, “For he loved those who love you. What reward have you?” How special is that? “Don’t even tax collectors”– the most evil people in their day. It is April 15th, isn’t it? “Do not even tax collectors do the same?” Verse 47, “And when you salute,” or if you’re saying hello, when you welcome only “only your brethren, what more are you doing than anybody else? Do not even the Gentiles,” the unspiritual people, the people who don’t care anything about God, “don’t even they do the same?” So here’s the new standard, verse 48. Here’s the new standard. “And you, therefore”– excuse me. I got so excited I [inaudible] my breath out. Verse 48, “You, therefore, must be perfect.”  Now, by the way, not perfect the way you would define it. Not perfect the way the dictionary would define it. And not at all perfect the way your parents would define it or the person wanting to criticize you would define it. Those are all human definitions. Here’s how you need to be perfect. You need to be like your heavenly father. If you’re like your heavenly father, that’s perfect. That is enough. You’ll never satisfy the people who want to criticize you, but you can please God. You can be like God. We all have to ask ourselves one very simple question. By what we say, by what we do, is the world a better place or worse? Is the world a darker place? Or do what we say and what we do, does the light of heaven shine brighter? Are we a part of things getting worse and worse? Or are we a part of things getting better and better? An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world dark. Are we a part of light or the dark? If you want to see miracles of transformation, you need to stay out of God’s way. I want to tell you, I wish that criticism could change somebody’s life. Because there is so much criticism in our world today that, if it worked, we would live in a perfect world. But do you think the world’s getting worse? That’s because there’s more and more criticism and not enough mercy. When God is trying to show mercy, sometimes people from the church come along and turn it into cruelty. Stay out of God’s way and let God show mercy to people because God wants to turn them around. And when you criticize when God wants to forgive, when you condemn when God wants to help, you’re getting in God’s way and interfering with what God is trying to do to make the world a better place. You see, we all say it, don’t what goes around comes around. And God works in those consequences but God does not need us when somebody comes around and kicked them, so they go around and round faster. God does not need our criticism to help people live a better life. The Easter Sunday night, on the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors were shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came soon among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Verse 20 when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side, and then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. They realized at another deeper level that he had come back to life. And then the most peculiar thing happened. He gives them four tasks. Four new rules that they should live by. Here’s the first one, peace be with you. When God is working through us, peace is what is happening. Here’s the second one. This will astonish you. As the Father has sent me, now, even so I send you. You and I are the people that carry on what Jesus started to do. Where do we receive our strength to do that? Verse 22. And when he had said this he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It’s not how smart you are or I am. It’s not how strong you are or how strong am I too. It is God and the Holy Spirit flowing through us that is changing the world around us. We are people who cooperate with what God is doing. Receive the Holy Spirit, breathe in and breathe out, and let God work all around you. How’s that going to happen? Here’s number four. This is the most astonishing thing. If you forgive the sins of many, they are forgiven. If you retain the  sins of many, they are retained. What are we to make of that? I do not wish to apply that someone is going to go to hell because you were not willing to forgive them, but I do want to remind all of us that when we are angry and harmful, it’s kind of a way of saying to someone, “Well, you can just go to hell.” You know that’s a prayer? To be that guy in front of the Internet and be saying, “No, that thing that you think? It’s wrong. And I want to fasten that to you. I want you to feel shame. I want you to feel blame. I want you to know what the fires of hell are like.” Friends, that is not your job. Your job when you go around your neighborhood praying for your family, praying for people that you have fun with, your friends, praying for people you work with, praying for people who live around you. You’re the one who says, “Lord, please forgive them. Oh, Lord, I see that. I know that breaks your heart. Please forgive them. Oh, Lord, that hurts. They hurt me. Please forgive them.” Because the promise here is very simple. If you ask God to forgive them, God hears your prayer. And you strengthen God’s ability to change in another person who you find to be objectionable. You probably also strengthen God’s ability to change you where God finds you objectionable. When you pray, there it is. One of the things you are asked to do is to pray God’s forgiveness down from heaven and into the hearts of other people. Because Lord knows they need to be forgiven and they need to learn how to forgive. Why? Because only mercy stops the cycle. Jesus said if you’re like your heavenly father, that’s perfect. That’s good enough. Well, in the same way, I want to say to you, you can be like Jesus. The next time you are tempted to give somebody a piece of your mind, with a sack of rocks along with it upside their head, remember what Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” They never do know what they do. But people, in ignorance, can do a lot of harm to other people. If you and I can be like Jesus, that’ll be perfect. And John Wesley said that the heart of being Methodist is we’re going on to perfection. We’re not satisfied with how much we’re like Jesus today. We want to go the whole way. “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.” That’s a prayer that you and I could be praying, too, if we want to be perfect. [inaudible] that summarizes Matthew 25. “Love your enemies.” Why not? “Pray for those who persecute you.” Why not? It’s the quickest way for them to change. “Pray for them so that you may be children of your father who is in Heaven. You, therefore, need to be perfect.” Why not? Why not be more like Jesus? Why not be more like your heavenly father. Please pray with me. Lord, I thank you that anybody who disagrees with me is just wrong. But I don’t have to make them know they’re wrong. I don’t have to prove that they’re wrong. I don’t have to go to war if someone disagrees with me. And maybe, Lord, I ought to keep my mind open in case they might be partly right. Help me, Lord– help all of us, Lord, to be more like Jesus and to begin by praying prayers of forgiveness for all the people around us who need to change including ourselves. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead so that we might live and walk in the newness of life. Amen. Four things you have to do. A charge to [keys?] you have. A God to glorify. Another dying soul to save, yours. But you don’t want to go to Heaven alone. Another dying soul to save and [inaudible]. Let’s stand and sing

 

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Transcription details: Audio 04 01 Easter

Transcription details: Audio 04 01  Easter

 

 

Date:   10-Jun-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 04 01  Easter

 

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Easter’s many things too many people for many people. Many churches. Easter is the day on the calendar. It’s the day of fluffy buddies hug each other. It’s the day Easter eggs. So full of vague and summer fully candy. It’s it’s a holiday.

And there’s nothing wrong. But it’s a little bit more for Easter to become a holy day. And more. And in order to understand Easter is a holy day, we need to see the resurrection and not just sad. We need to go through the resurrection. Because until we experienced the resurrection and that’s what it’s meant to be, it’s just another day on the calendar Easter has not happen. Until it happens in our heart. And what that means for a lot of people Easter hasn’t happened yet. Chapter 16th verse 5 and entering the two they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were amazed. Women had abroad spices and white moments to the two that Sunday morning, they could not come on Saturday because that once the Sabbath, they haven’t prepared. Jesus is body for burial that has you wait till Sunday morning. But when they got there, the stone was rolled aside.

 

There was an angel there. The angel said to them do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, he has risen. He is not here, see the place where they laid him. And they looked in, they saw the place and then the angel gives them a job. Go tell his disciples. eggbeater. But he Jesus is going before you in the Galilee. There you will see, you know, as he told

you. Thursday, notice that they went out and fled from the two. For a trembling and astonishment had come upon them. And they said, nothing. To anyone. Where they were afraid. Now, some time between this moment. And not very long after.

They experienced Easter in the heart. Until the Easter was something they had heard about, they heard about affirmative angel. But it hasn’t happened yet because they were so of trained. They were not yet people who believe in eastern is the eastern has happened. It’s an event in history. We know that. But it had not happened for

them. They were still stuck on Friday. Mary made one sees the man in the garden thinks he’s the gardener, comes up to him and says, you know where they take him my Lord. You seem to her. She was stuck on Friday. Other people get stuck on Saturday, where you just waiting and waiting and waiting and being afraid can make us. Feel like little children’s mobilize and helpless.

Easter is happen. But they didn’t know it. Because it had not yet happen. Within minutes. Of running back into the side. They realized the meaning of what they could see. And now they can tell. We saying is talking to Easter sunrise. Were you there?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they made him in the two? Were you there when God raise them from the dead? Brings the bible says, we work. You were there. Let’s look at Bill first. Chapter six first one, what shall we say there are really continue incident? That race me

abound verse to by no means how can we do died? Two said, you know the two indictments in. How can we who died? This said still it it. Verse three do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into crises were baptized were put into were immersed into his death? Were you there when they crucified my

Lord? This bible, verse says, you work. Do you understand it? Probably not. But there’s a lot of things in the bible that we don’t understand. Somehow we were there when Jesus died. And we don’t. First four we were buried therefore with him by a baptism ended death. Notice the tens

of the bird. We were buried. This is done. Why so that is Christ was raised from the dead by the gory with the father. We need to mind walk noticed some tens of the verb. It may have happened. It may not have happened. But you have the opportunity to walk in numerous of life, why

birds fly for if we’d been United with him and his dad vicarious than the previous verse says, we work. We shall certainly be United with resurrection like his. But this is a potential. Now about matter. As eastern attractive. For you. Now considered where you are.

On Friday, Jesus was nailed to the cross and he died. And these versus saying, very clearly we were there. We were buried therefore, when Jesus will late in the to the earth’s says, we were there. But you know something Jesus got up and walked out of the two. But not everybody has gotten up.

And walked down. Powdered that for a moment. But I had several hours, I would tell you the story of the life of John Wesley, how he grew up as the son of a pastor, grandson of a pastor. Went to Oxford, University went to seminary, was ordained, decided he would be a missionary. The Georgia he had, everything is fine. And

correct. But all its way on the sea across the ocean to Georgia, he encountered them Arabians and he encountered people who within their heart, there was the thing that was all alive. And all of a sudden he realized that he did not have a fait bet was alive. And I want to tell you night and day for 2 and a half meters from

1735 til aldersgate day in may of 1738 drought Wesley sought this kind of living things. And he wrote that on that died at those little small group meeting on all of our states. Part was strangely more. He was able to walk out of tune. And live with

one. To experience in a way. And so resurrect. A whole lot of us. And I’ve had a similar experience. Two, others of us like John Wesley, it’s the data on the calendar is something we understand with our mind, but it hasn’t reached into our heart just quite yet. It all began for me on leave

your day of 19 72. I grew up in the Lutheran church Missouri say. And there was a high school student, I was listening to this band and Jesus people, and they have something that I knew that I didn’t have. I want to tell you I am it. And that night I went to the wives. So on the floor. Man

preached a sermon I don’t remember a word of what he said, but at the end, we talked about invitation last week. At the end, he said, if you want what you see in the hearts of the habit and I wanted it and I’ve praying the prayer, and when I stood up and they came and prayed for me and other people, they went home that night. And I said to myself, that was interesting because you see nothing had happened.

But the next morning, I woke up a different person. I came back from the services that night. They ask, people can stood up 1 and what have you experienced? And I said, well, it feels really strange. Like I’ve been reborn. Remember I grew up with for I never heard this born again. Stuff. It was all new to me, but it felt exactly like that to experience the resurrection quite often

in the life of human beings, the spiritual life. As we develop and grow, it tastes a rite of passage of some sort that race lose the power, the resurrection in our life. Sometimes it’s a mission trip. Sometimes it’s the walk were may as you’ve heard him and I talked about this, but that time apart, some house opens us up and lose them to stop so that we can in a matter of days

find the thing that John Wesley spent 2 and a half years. Searching full. The kind of faith were suddenly all things. Become. We can come alive. In a way that we did not know. Before. You’ve heard me use this illustrates than before. I like you to imagine this fluorescent light bulb. I this

tendency to swing it like a light saber and. One could break such a thing somehow. I pretend to sway like a light saber. You know how these bald work. They are full of the gas. The wind power with electricity flows through it. That gas begins to get excited. In fact, that’s literally what the physicists saying. They say the gas gets excited in vibrates in moves. If gets

excited and will it gets excited it below. And that’s how fluorescent lights work. When the power goes through them, they light up. And you all are the same way there is not a wrong with the us tube. You see pictured almost pre- there’s nothing wrong with it, but it can be. What it wants to be a can be when God made it to

be until the power is flowing through it. And then all of a sudden the light shining in. Paul said that he was seeking an striving, but he may know him Jesus as the power of his resurrection. You heard me say a few weeks ago there is a command, let your lights shine. Jesus didn’t ask you to let your light shine on your own strength.

And if the power of his resurrection. The lights. You. Let me tell you a joke. It’s one of those jokes I have to warn you in advance. This joke healthy. Well, looks at our wives. So is a heavy sigh goes into her son’s

better. She says, Honey, it’s time for you to get out. You need to go to school. You’re going to be late again. Her son goes, I don’t want to go. So you have to go to school, get up the addressed. It’s time to go school. It’s time for you to rise up and go to school. And the son says, I don’t want to go. Not one of those kids. Life’s me. Teachers don’t like

me either. The monster, so I don’t care. You have to get up. You have to get dressed. You have to go to school while me one reason why. Okay, I’ll tell you to here’s the first one. You are 42 years old. You’re too old for this. Furthermore, you’re the principle.

It’s not always easy to give it up. But one of the power of God helps us to give all of a sudden our hearts. And think. We need to experience this new life of heart. We need the help of law, not only

that churches need to experience new life. Church members go through the resurrection and they come back and then rise passage, all lit up and on fire her Christ’s we can know churches need to go through a resurrection too. If people don’t go through a resurrection navy Hinson window at age. And I wanted to tell you the churches that don’t go through a resurrection, they likewise began to dwindle. And the

age. Because we are created event for the power of God to flow through. I’ve told you about this before center for parents to go to church growth, principled center for Peres development as a research organization in Chicago. So 20 years or more ago they studied the cause of why churches, rogue American. They put together a sample of churches

all across the nation every time rural city every race, you David every difference theologically liberal conservative. When study those churches and everything, somebody said, this is why were throwing they wrote those characteristics. Dale? Then they created a matching sample would churches where. The church was not growing. And every time they found the characteristic, there was on the growing list that was on the growing list.

They took it off the list because you know whenever that was by then a wonderful thing. But it wasn’t essential. When they came down, there was only one essential characteristic of every growing church right there on the screen. The lady are excited. Remember that gas that gets excited and it gives off line. The lady are excited about

what. About what is happening in their church? Now, this guy who’s jumping off that class, I don’t think we need to get that excited. Good friends. If we’re alive in will begin to get excited about something. Maybe it’ll be the Browning’s you’ll be able to enjoy after church this morning.

You’ll be excited about something, maybe it’ll be the Easter egg hunt that the children after 42 years old, you’re too old. Maybe it’ll be the Easter egg hunt, but if price people get excited. Churches go through resurrection, why word enthusiasm for another good word for excitement? It literally means God or filled with John.

Churches need to go through resurrection too. We are not bit can do this on our own strain. But because God’s our woes room. This is the saying, our Thurman what? What’s the excitement? They simply this don’t ask what the world needs. Don’t ask, what the church beams don’t ask, what pastor days needs. Asked what makes you come alive? What could be more like a

resurrection than that asked? What makes you come alive at go do it? Because what the world needs to see in the church? As proof that our faith is true, what the world needs to see in the church’s, this is people who have come. Our friends, there’s going to be hard days. Sometimes it’s hard to get. Things happened in life

could just make you feel beaten up. Good morning. But the power of God help us rise up. When it’s beyond our own strength. But you know, there’s another reason. Sometimes it’s hard to get up because we haven’t learned how to walk. That’s why we have certain that’s why we have bible study. To teaches for that means to be alive and cries, and then

learn how to take those first steps. And keep at it. Until we can really. But sometimes it’s not your own fault that you can’t get up. You’re just not quite ready hand. But when your brain. We need God’s power. Two foot. Because you see it’s time to lead a new line.

There’s something planted in your heart. There’s something that God is planted in your life, and God wants to see it move in world because they’ve Easter ins happen. Anything? I don’t know what problems you might phase of life, but guess what if these two through anything is possible? I don’t know what difficulties, but person you love the person you’re

closest to the person to worry about. I don’t know what they’re going through, but I wanted to tell you if the Easter is happened, anything is possible. Because Jesus Christ is alive and he lives in your heart. His wife to shine out from your heart. And our whole world can change. Because he is not know the tomb. He is a long.

Please pray. Lord, Jesus, if we’re that little child, we we don’t really quite understand what it means to walk, let alone to run. And if we’re a little child in our faith, we don’t really quite understand what it means for Jesus Christ, the live in our hearts and shine out through it. But Lord, at the right time, we’ll be ready to take those first steps of thing.

And so war, just as Jesus came into the heart of Billy grade. And Billy Graham spent his whole life inviting people to have that relationship with crime. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ, when throat John Wesley head in the John Wesley spot. Lord, Jesus, you want to live in our hearts as well. And so I’ve prayed for your people for this church for all the

churches. I pray that your life would shine out from artist. And I asked to. In the name of the board. Jesus. Neither is the song and talks about God willing to grow something in it. And it’s a beautiful song. You may not know it, and we’re not going to sing it till after can

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Transcription details: Audio 03 18 2018

Transcription details: Audio 03 18 2018

Date:   18-Mar-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 03 18 2018

 

Transcription results:

 

do you feel this is true? We live in an age of uninformed, self-righteous, emotional reactivity. If you pay much attention to the news, if you find yourself on Facebook, doesn’t it seem that the less people know, the louder they get?

Here’s the thing we do know people have many reasons why they think they are entitled to be angry. They’re upset. They’re disturbed. They feel the world is going to hell in a handbasket and they know it’s someone else’s fault. It’s not easy to be one of these people. People have many reasons why they feel entitled to be angry. You will be tempted to react to their emotions. When that temptation comes, what will you do? There is a big difference if you realize that you have a choice. You have the choice of being generous, you have the choice to be a victim. But the one thing that everybody who is angry has in common is they perceive themselves to be a victim and they’re looking for someone to transfer that victim status too.

How will you react to that temptation? Will you choose to be generous, or will you choose to be a victim? Here’s what Jesus said. Mathew chapter five is about the new holiness that Jesus wants to teach to people. Here’s the old holiness. You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. That’s the Old Testament Law. The point of this Old Testament Law is to limit revenge, so it is an improvement. Revenge used to be if you step on my toe, I will kill everyone in your family. In fact, there’s still some people who think that’s the right response when someone hurts them. So here’s the thing about this eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Does it work?

Let’s imagine you’re on a long trip, and you have these three kids in the back seat of your car, and one hits the other. “Mommy, he hit me.” “Well, hit him back, but him just as hard as he hit you.” “Mommy, he hit me again.” By the way, does this ever work? You take those three kids in the back of the car. Do they ever get to a point where, “Mommy we can stop now because we’re all even [laughter].” Now, this is an improvement, but with human beings being the way they are, this doesn’t work because the last person to be hit feels like a victim. And see, here’s the reality of feeling like a victim. You want revenge and when you feel like a victim, that’s just going to stir you up to worse and worse and worse. And so in response to this problem, here’s what Jesus says. “But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

By the way did you know that the day after Valentine’s Day is National Happy Slap Day?[laughter]. I don’t want to explain what Happy Slap Day is, but the thing that we need to understand is– when I first read this I thought strike was a fist. It’s not. It literally in Greek means, “slap.” It only appears twice in the entire New Testament. The Greek word is [“rhapizo”?]. Wrap, slap, “rhapizo.” Now what does this mean? Is Jesus saying that we should let other people harm us? Should we be victims? God is not interested in increasing the number of victims in the world. But we can see that Jesus is exaggerating a little bit to make a point because He goes on to say this, “If anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Verse 42. “Give to him who begs from you. Do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” What does this mean?

Well, I would like to tell you that I’m 63 years old, and I can’t tell you why, but I still have every coat that I’ve grown out of over all those years [laughter]. About 20 years ago, I actually gave the winter coat that I had while I was in high school to one of my children. But I still had it because you never know, I might be that small again. So if I’m out and say, “Give me your coat or I’ll have my lawyer come after you,” to be honest, I could say, “Well, go ahead and have this coat. I got a Visa card. I’ll have a new one tomorrow. Oh and by the way, I’ve got some other old coats. Do you want them, too? I have a reason to go shopping. I have plenty of coats. Why do I care?

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, do you know what that is? Roman soldiers had the right that any Jewish person they grabbed carry their pack for a mile, and of course the Jewish people really resented this. Here’s what Jesus says. “If one of them ask you to carry it for a mile, go ahead and carry it for two miles. What do you care? You’ve got time.”

“Give to him who begs from you.” Well, maybe they need it. If somebody needs a blanket, we got a whole bunch of them. Maybe to give and be generous is not as much of a problem as we think. We don’t like the attitude, but to be generous may not be that much of a problem for us. There’s a big difference between being generous and being a victim if you had a choice, which one would you choose? I want to tell you that if you allow another person to make you a victim, you’ll feel bad all day. But if you can turn it around and be generous, you will probably feel good and maybe even just a little bit superior. But there’s also a third choice. Because Jesus wants them to repent, to rethink, to look at things with a new perspective. There’s a third choice, which is that you can be like Jesus. Here’s where Jesus is going with this. This is the next scripture, the next command. And we’re not going to actually get to this until after Easter. But where Jesus is going is this is a part of him saying, “You’ve heard that it was said and you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy but I say to you,” Jesus says, “I want you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Those who might demand your coat. Force you to go farther than you feel like, who ask you to meet their needs. Jesus says, “I want you to love those people. I want you to pray for them.” So to understand this verse of turning the other cheek, we have to understand that the reason Jesus asks us to do this is it’s a part of learning how to love someone who for one reason or another, at that moment in time, is not very lovable. If you’ve been a parent, you understand this. Those wonderful children, sometimes not very lovable. Of course, this does not apply to grandchildren, right Kim? Because if they’re not lovable, it’s just like, “Hey, take your kid back. You’re the parent, it’s your turn.” We learn how to deal with people. That’s one of the things our families teach us. We learn how to deal with people that are not very lovable by getting along with people in our families because sooner or later, everybody’s going to have a bad day. I sure hope today’s not your turn. But this is where Jesus is headed. You don’t turn the other cheek so that that person can hurt you. You turn the other cheek because Jesus wants you to figure out what it means to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.

And here’s why, Luke 23. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, or Golgotha, there they crucified him and the criminals, one on the right, one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” I want to tell you, that other person, they don’t know what they’re doing. They never do. They never do. And then look at the very next thing that happens after they nail him to the cross. They take his clothes and divide them among them. And they take his robe, and they gamble for it. Wow, that sounds familiar. If anyone would sue you and take your coat, let them have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Remember, they forced Jesus to carry his own cross verse 39, “But I say to you,  do not resist one who is evil. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” At the courtyard of the high priest, they blindfolded Jesus, and they slapped Him, and they said, “Prophesy to us, who hit You?” This is the only other time that word for slap appeared in the New Testament. Do you think that Jesus knew that He be treated like this? Do you think that He knew? Give Him [inaudible] from you. You have refused Him. He was barred from you. If you have 5 loaves and 2 fish, you know it just might be enough for everybody to have some. We always have the choice to be like Jesus. Even though we understand that to be like Jesus, it doesn’t mean that Jesus always got His way. We always have that choice. Many, many, many, many years ago when I was a very young man, I preached a sermon. My oldest son was six years old. It was at the Grace United Methodist Church in Quincy, Illinois. And I talked about how sometimes to be faithful means we have to be willing to suffer like Jesus suffered. And I talked about how the Emperor Nero took Christians, covered them up with tar, put them on a pole hanging at the valves, and he lit them on fire to light his [picnics?]. One of the most horrifying examples of persecution I know. My six-year-old son turns to his mother and said, “Mom, I’m sure glad we’re not Christians [laughter],” and you know that was a shocking statement. We asked him, “What do you mean by that?” later, and he said, “Well, we’re Methodists. Thank God, we’re not Christians [laughter].” But friends anything that happened to Jesus can happen to you, any kind of bad day that Jesus had. You know there may come a time to where you’re going to have the same kind of bad day. What’s your choice going to be on that bad day? You always have the choice to be like Jesus or you can choose to be like the kids in the backseat who can’t stop smacking each other. One of my father’s  favorite stories– he really liked Dale Carnegie [inaudible]. Some of you may not have ever heard the name, Dale Carnegie. But back in the ’50’s, Dale Carnegie came into a hotel with someone else, and the desk clerk was incredibly short and rude with him. And after they walked away from registering for the room– Dale Carnegie, by the way, had been very nice to the desk clerk. As they walked away, the other man said, “Mr. Carnegie, I can’t believe that you did not put that desk clerk in his place. I can’t believe that you let him get away with treating you like that. How dare he do that?” And this is what my father like to quote, he said that Dale Carnegie looked at the other man and said, “When he treated me that way, I just assumed that he had had a bad day.” All of a sudden, they all currently was able to not take that personally. You always have the opportunity to be like Jesus and look down from whatever cross people put you on and say, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they do.” They are stupid. They are arrogant. They are wrong. They are everything you wouldn’t want to say about them that’s negative, but you know something, they don’t know what they do. They never do. But if you can make the choice to be like Jesus, sometimes you can change everything. The interaction where they’ve all currently that day changed the sort of day that that part of what has happened because someone did not respond to Him at that time. Or I can introduce you to my niece, Jenna. I’m guessing in this picture, she’s about four years old. That’s my two nephews and my niece, Jenna. At this moment in time, Jenna is studying to be a nurse practitioner. She is pretty much of a genius. She’s grown up now, but she’s every bit as pretty as she was when she was four. What I want to tell you, we would go on vacation with my brother’s family, and we spend the week together. And all the boys, five boys, they would go off and do something disgusting and dirty and uninteresting to me. And I would sit down and I would play cards with Jenna, and I have to tell you a secret, I let her win [laughter]. It wasn’t very hard to let her win when she was seven because all I had to do was smile and not play the right card in rummy and she snapped it up and laughed, and I had so much fun letting her win. She really enjoyed it too every time. Every year we come together for vacation, she’d say, “Uncle Dave, can we play cards?” Well, unfortunately, after about five years of this, she was such a smart kid, I didn’t have to let her win [laughter]. Couldn’t really stop her and when she won, didn’t find it’s much interesting to beat Uncle Dave in cards, but it was so much fun to let her win. And you know something, when you’re dealing with someone who’s difficult, when you’re dealing with someone who’s childish especially if they’re really a child, it’s astonishing how wonderful it feels to be generous and let them win. Because here’s the truth, you don’t need to win every game. You don’t need to win every argument. You don’t need to win every time. And as soon as you get that, I guarantee you’ll have a much better day if you don’t have to win with every interaction you have with another [inaudible].

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we get so upset. We get so worried. We get so afraid. We get so anxious. We get ourselves to the place where we’re having a bad day, and we want to fight because we allowed the world to make us a victim. And when you’re a victim, all you can do is fight back. But, Lord, we have the option always of choosing to be like You. When someone else is having a bad day, we have the option of choosing to be generous, choosing to be kind, choosing to become the kind of person that would be able to love their enemy and pray for the people. Lord, help us to do what we need to do to honestly defend ourselves if we’re really going to be harmed and help us also understand Lord that that other person’s opinion doesn’t really harm us, can’t really hurt us unless we let it. Help us, Lord, to remember that we have the opportunity to be like You and to be kind and generous, Amen.

Here’s why I have chosen this morning with the help of others, they’re all about Jesus on the cross, what it means for Jesus to be on the cross, how Jesus helped us through it all. This was about the fact that Jesus is there to talk to us. We don’t have to turn against other people. We can turn towards Him. Let’s stand and sing. [music]`

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Transcription details: Audio 03 11 2018

Transcription details:  Audio 03 11 2018

Date:   11-Mar-2018

Input sound file:         Audio 03 11 2018

 

Transcription results:

 

as you know, we are going command by command through the words of Jesus, and then the [inaudible] on the map we come up to one that has to do with this statement from the Proverbs. It’s been on my mind this week. Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.” That may seem a little of an odd thing to say at the beginning of a sermon. Here’s the way the amplified version puts it, “When there are many words, transgression – sin – and offense is unavoidable.” In other words, if you talk long enough about anything,  you’re going to offend everybody. “But he who controls his lips and keeps thoughtful silence is wise.” New Living Translation puts in even more [playable?], “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible. Keep your mouth shut.” By paying attention to that I guess the sermon would stop right now, but I don’t have good sense. But sometimes, [inaudible], it’s wiser to be quiet, [therefore?] helpful to be quiet. And I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, that’s hard for me as a person.

Mark Twain once told the story about how he had gone to church on the Sunday night in Hartford, Connecticut, where he lived. It was the annual report of the city missionary, a man who spent all of his time working with the poor in the city. People who struggled through no fault of their own and lived very difficult lives. This touched Mark Twain, and he was thinking about the [inaudible] and he determined that he would give every dollar in his wallet when they pass the plate. He had $400 with him. In fact, he determined he’d try to find some way to raise more because this work was good work. However, it was a hot summer night and the city missionary just went on, and on, and on. And as he went on and on, Mark Twain said, “My enthusiasm went down and down at a $100 a level.” Until he said, “Finally, when they did pass the plate, I stole 10 cents out of the offering [laughter].” And he didn’t say it exactly like this, but his next sentence, he said, “Sermons that are too long obviously lead to crime.” Because sometimes too much information is not helpful. In fact, as the information piles up you can be pretty sure that’s something going on other than just trying to tell the truth. A lot of times, when people are in denial about a problem, they will talk, and talk, and talk to hide what’s going on. They will hide what’s actually happening with a mountain of excuses, with a pile of arguments. They will hide the truth by trying to persuade you with something else. Too much information often hides something and especially what Jesus was talking about, which is too many promises. You see, the simple truth does not need to advertise. If you know something is true, you don’t have to sell it. And if you’ve ever been out buying something, and it had someone push you and sell to you and sell, sell, sell, and he knows you begin to get suspicious because whatever it is, there must be something wrong if they have to work so hard to get you to buy it. The simple truth does not need to be sold. In fact, it’s not for sale. But people would want to lead you astray with false promises to something that’s not true. Ralph Waldo Emerson used this phrase, he said, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we faster we counted our silver spoons.” Because overnight, someone who wants to reassure you as to how honest they are, as they go on and on and on about it, you begin to question: if he has to convince me he’s honest, do I need to worry about that? Too many promises. Too much information, sometimes it hides something. Here’s what Jesus said– by the way, you’re all aware of this custom, if you cross your fingers when you make a promise, you don’t have to keep it. That’s what’s going on here. Matthew 5:33, “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you swore.'” That’s what the law says. If you give an oath to God that you’re going to do this, and this, and this, and if you don’t do it, this punishment, you will incur. You have to perform to the Lord with this form. But here’s what Jesus said, “But I say to you, verse 34, do not swear at all. Do not swear either by heaven, for it’s the throne of God. Do not swear by the earth, for it’s His footstool. Do not swear by Jerusalem, for it’s a city of the great King.” Whatever you’re tempted to swear by so that people will believe you, don’t do it. Verse 36, “Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair black or white.” You are not in control, and if you admit it and understand it, you probably understand it’s wise not to make promises you can’t keep. And so what Jesus says, verse 37, “Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No; anything more than this comes from evil.” That’s where everything I’ve said before this comes from, right there because as we human beings pile up words, and certainly, we preachers do this, it doesn’t always tend to good. I don’t like that, but Jesus said it. And whatever Jesus says, I need to take seriously. And at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will– verse 28. We’ll read this about Jesus. And when Jesus finished, [He’d say?] the crowds were astonished at His teaching. But He taught them as one who had authority, one who was able to tell them the truth – “This is what it is” – and not as their scribes. Scribes were the religious lawyers. Scribes were the experts in the Bible. Scribes were the ones who, when they opened their mouth, they’d go on for two hours before they took a breath. Kind of like some preachers I know [laughter].

And here’s what Jesus said. “Let what you say be simply yes or no.” I went to Kim this morning, and I said, “I wonder what it would be like if I went through a whole day with you and said nothing but yes or no.” And she didn’t say anything, but I could tell she kind of liked the possibility of that [laughter]. Because there’s a whole lot more that I want to say, and I’m always quoting books. And not just 1 book but 12 books. And before you know it, two hours have gone by, and I haven’t taken a breath. Jesus encourages us to stick with yes, stick with no.

This is one of my favorite cartoons. It’s called Duty Calls. It’s by xkcd. It’s online. You can look at a bunch of them. The wife calls from the other room, “Are you coming to bed?” The husband says, “I can’t. This is important.” The wife says, “What’s so important?” The man says, “Someone is wrong on the Internet, but I can’t go to sleep until I’ve fixed it.”

It’s like the bugle calling the troops to battle. I have to go on the Internet. I have to go on Facebook. I have to type 10,000 words to convince someone that they’re wrong before I can even stop, to convince someone who’s not even listening. That’s too much like me sometimes. The title of the cartoon is Duty Calls, but it really doesn’t. That’s not my duty, to correct everyone or fix everyone. And in fact, because of Facebook and 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week television, 5,000 channels, you can even watch the news in foreign languages.

So much information is coming into your life that it is causing us a great deal of confusion. Sometimes we need to declutter ourselves from all the information that’s coming in toward us. Okay? Why? Because a lot of what’s coming toward us is denial, [inaudible], arguments, persuasion. They did a study that was just released yesterday in the Atlantic magazine. People have this perverse nature where they are more likely to share information on the Internet that’s not true than sharing information that’s true. So what that means is most of the information that’s coming toward you is not true and here’s what I think this verse yes or no, says to us, the simple truth doesn’t need 10,000 words. That false promise is what we’ll find down the road of too much information and too many promises. This troubles me because if anyone of you comes to me with a problem, deep down in my heart of hearts I want to give you the gift of 10,000 words. And what maybe God is trying to say to me is, “You know Dave, maybe those 10,000 words are not needed.” Typical sermon between 2,500 and 3,000 words. So 10,000 words is about an hour of talk. Well, if 10,000 words isn’t good, then what is? Well, here’s what it is. Sometimes we have to step away from too many words. And when we feel overwhelmed if you just stepped away and sit in silence. When everyone else is quiet, sometimes you can hear the voice of God. When all the distractions are done away with, sometimes the truth can be clearly seen. Sometimes people don’t need words, they need to be quiet and be still and know that God is God and they are not. As you go through your day to day, if yore someone who when you walk into your house, you turn the television on. I used to be like that. If you’re someone who when you get in the car, you turn the radio on, sure, I used to be someone like that. If you ever found when you go into the store, there’s this constant background noise. If you ever found in a restaurant that you’re sitting there trying to talk with the person you’re with and the music over the speakers is so loud you can’t even hear them. Sometimes you need to step away from all of the noise of this world that distracts us. And if we sit in silence with God, you’ll become aware of the truth. And if you have a problem, if you feel overwhelmed with something, especially if the emotions are overwhelming you. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes what we need most is just to sit with God for a while and listen and we’ll become aware of the truth that God wants us to know. So Jesus gives us this advice, only it’s not advice, it’s a command. Let what you say be simply, “Yes.” No, no. Henry Ford Jr once said that the secret to success was to never complain and never explain because this is how the words pile up. I get that this one never overstate. You know what it means to overstate. It means use many words to confuse and bewilder the people. Don’t do that. Never overstate, but try to let what you say become simpler and more true so that people know what your yes is, and so that people know what it means when you say no, and so the people can hear simple truths becomes sometimes too many words hide [inaudible] and leads to something that’s not good. Please, pray. Lord Jesus, for some of us it’s been a very long time since we spent an hour just sitting quietly. For some of us Lord an hour sitting quietly causes all kinds of things to come up that are uncomfortable for us because sometimes Lord we choose the noise because it helps us to avoid the truth. But please remind us, lord of the value, that if we step away from the noise of this world if we step away from the distractions that everyone brings to us, if we step away to be quiet with you, maybe Lord you’ll sit quietly with us and keep us company. But it could be just lord that if we take that time to listen to you, we would become aware of the simple truth that you want us to know, and that we would know the truth and that truth from you would set us free. We ask for that great lesson in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Our closing hymn reflects

 

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