Influencing Liberation

9/4/2022

Message Title: Influencing Liberation
Theme:
Paul’s Influence
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Philemon 1:1-21
Scripture Reading: Luke 14:25-33
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; Deuteronomy 30:15-20;
Psalm 1; Philemon 1:1-21; Luke 14:25-33
Focus: Paul used his influence to help liberate an enslaved man.
Function: To embrace our role in mercy.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 14:25-33 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: The Apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament. He is known as one of the biggest influences of the Early Church. A church receiving a letter from Paul was sure to read it and put his words into practice. Over the month of September, we will look at 2 different letters of Paul and consider his influence in two men’s lives.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If your house was burning down and you could only get out with what was in your hands, what would you grab to bring with you?
    1. No one said their children/loved ones?!?!
    1. I may have to start calling you all Quokkas.
  2. Quokka (kwaa-kah)- marsupial from Australia, they’re from the wallaby family
    1. Internet spread rumors that Quokka throw their babies at predators when they feel threatened so that they can run away. However, it’s more accurate to say they release their pouch muscles so their baby “falls out” while they’re running away.
    1. Self-preservation at the expense of their spawn

TRANSITION: Paul was not someone too concerned with self-preservation. He was imprisoned multiple times, beaten, shipwrecked, and eventually executed by Rome all for the sake of the Gospel. While imprisoned he wrote a letter to Philemon—would Paul use this time to help himself or provide council?

Paul is writing for Onesimus’ preservation.

MAIN TEXT: Philemon 1:1-21 From Paul, who is a prisoner for the cause of Christ Jesus, and our brother Timothy. To Philemon our dearly loved coworker, Apphia our sister, Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church that meets in your house. May the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Philemon, I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers because I’ve heard of your love and faithfulness, which you have both for the Lord Jesus and for all God’s people. I pray that your partnership in the faith might become effective by an understanding of all that is good among us in Christ. I have great joy and encouragement because of your love, since the hearts of God’s people are refreshed by your actions, my brother. 8 Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to command you to do the right thing, 9 I would rather appeal to you through love. I, Paul—an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus— 10 appeal to you for my child Onesimus. I became his father in the faith during my time in prison. 11 He was useless to you before, but now he is useful to both of us. 12 I’m sending him back to you, which is like sending you my own heart. 13 I considered keeping him with me so that he might serve me in your place during my time in prison because of the gospel. 14 However, I didn’t want to do anything without your consent so that your act of kindness would occur willingly and not under pressure. 15 Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord! 17 So, if you really consider me a partner, welcome Onesimus as if you were welcoming me. 18 If he has harmed you in any way or owes you money, charge it to my account. 19 I, Paul, will pay it back to you (I’m writing this with my own hand). Of course, I won’t mention that you owe me your life. 20 Yes, brother, I want this favor from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 I’m writing to you, confident of your obedience and knowing that you will do more than what I ask. 

EXPLAINATION: Our first letter in this series is quite short. Paul’s letter to Philemon was only 25 verses long. If you keep reading the remaining 4 verses you can say you read a whole book of the Bible today!

  1. Background details:
    1. Author: Paul
    1. Recipient: Philemon- property owner/wealthy man, Christian hosting a house church
    1. Content: Onesimus- enslaved person/indentured servant ran away
  2. Paul meets Onesimus, Onesimus becomes a Christ follower, Paul convinces Onesimus to return to Philemon with this letter in hopes that Philemon will release Onesimus of his debt and set him free because he is now a brother in Christ. “Level up your faith, Philemon”
    1. Also, Paul reminds him of the eternal debt that Paul helped Philemon with by introducing him to Jesus.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Paul takes pride in his faith in Christ. Paul was a zealous Pharisee that became zealous for Jesus and called others to do the same.
    1. He was transformed by Jesus. Originally his zealousness was going to kill Christians, now it liberates people.
    1. He wants others to model his zealousness for God.
  2. Connecting this passage to the Gospel:
    1. Jesus calls his audience to count the cost of discipleship using three examples.
    1. Nothing should hold a disciple back from faithfulness to Jesus, not even their own desires or family.
    1. Offend people by who we include vs who we exclude
  3. Philemon likely had every desire of Onesimus paying off his debt but Paul is saying “bro, you gotta let that go. Also, you owe me!” Paul wants Philemon to let go of his self-preservation and his “rights” for the sake of the Gospel.
    1. Ironic, when so many Christians used this at one point in time to defend the return of run-away slaves during the Civil War.
    1. This is a letter about liberation not enslavement. This is a letter beseeching a man to do the right thing.  This is NOT a letter endorsing slavery. Btw slaver is still legal in the US in the form of punishment (prison inmates).

APPLICATION: To embrace our role in mercy.

  1. Philemon was asked to set aside his rights for the Gospel.
  2. AMERICAN SACRIFICE: I’d love us to ask ‘Could we do the same? Could we give up our rights for the Gospel?’ but I don’t think American Christians could even if they thought they wanted to.
    1. American Christians have not counted the cost. We don’t want to give up our rights, beliefs, or opinions for the Gospel.
    1. “The great debates around COVID precautions” is a perfect example of “my body my choice.” Christians chose autonomy over caring for their neighbor. I remember actually hearing Christians say that elderly can be sacrificed for the greater good. They’ve lived long enough. … LITERALLY. Or that if your family is vulnerable STAY HOME?!?! 2 years later… did we hear ourselves? We literally told the disabled, needy, vulnerable to stay home so that we could have our freedom.
      1. How is that caring for the least of these?
    1. I won’t even get into the discussion of guns or abortion because even mentioning those two topics would lead to people not listening to the message. We cling to our autonomy and safety like they are God. We want freedom to chose OUR way when it fits our personal preferences but don’t want others to have the same freedom.
  3. REFLECTION:
    1. If you are Philemon, who is your Onesimus? Who are you holding back the Gospel for your own benefit or preferences? … or even beliefs…?
    1. How are your rights/actions infringing on the Gospel being received by others?

CONCLUSION & COMMUNION: This table is a reminder that Jesus sacrificed his rights for us. Jesus died on a cross so that we could have eternal life. This table is a reminder of the promises we receive through Jesus’ actions. It also reminds us that we are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, by his cross we are liberated. We are called to sacrifice our will for God’s design.

Sacrifice our plans.

Sacrifice our safety.

Sacrifice our rights.

Sacrifice our concept of the Gospel.

Because we worship a God who liberates the captives. We worship a God who restores the broken. We worship a God who invites the lonely. We worship a God who levels the playing field.

The act of communion reminds us that we sacrifice our plans because God’s plan is even more joyful, beautiful, and fulfilling that our wildest dreams.

PRAY BLESSING FOR ELEMENTS

INVITATION

DEACONS SERVE COMMUNION

BENEDICTION & BLESSING

Faith in Surplus

8/28/2022

Message Title: Faith in Surplus
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Scripture Reading: Luke 14:1, 7-14
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Sirach 10:12-18 or Proverbs 25:6-7; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Focus: Faith requires hospitality with genuine motivations.
Function:
To celebrate our blessings and surplus without holding onto them like a security blanket. Rather use our blessings to bless others. 

Other Notes: faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, supply chains, utilities, politicians, fencing, Banks

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 14:1, 7-14 14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to share a meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely….When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. 10 Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.” 12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.”

FAITH IN LIFE: Faith in banks

  1. TRUST IN BANKS
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGMENT: Who has distinct memories of a Great Depression parent or grandparent? AKA “The Greatest Generation” (at the time Adults) or Silent Generation (at the time kids)
    1. I have two distinct memories. First, I’ll share about my dad’s maternal grandparents- My Great Grandparents Ora & Miller had a major distrust for banks. They stored up all their money in places in their home. When we would come to visit, Grandpa Miller would whip out $20 bills from no where and send us to the store to pick up cokes. When they passed away, my grandparents discovered nearly $250k in $20 bills stashed places; all because of their lack of trust in banks.
  3. The Greatest Generation experienced horrors that no human should have to suffer. World War II and The Great Depression were big burdens to carry. I think my generation is still impacted by the ripple effects of our great grandparents. Some individuals have a lack of trust in establishments while others want to reform the establishments.

TRANSITION:  People may not like to admit it but money can change you. Going hungry can change you. Having an excess of money can change you. Last week we talked about releasing control of the Gospel to be hospitable; this week we continue the hospitality conversation with a discussion of famine and surplus.

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing itRemember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon youThis is why we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, and I won’t be afraid. What can people do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!… 15 So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through him, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. 16 Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Gospel: In Ch 13, Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath. Time has passed and we’re on another Sabbath. It’s been a week since then and Jesus is once again healing on the Sabbath. Scandalous! He then emphasized the motivations of the people listening by discussing a wedding.
    1. Wedding feast, guests, & important seats.
    1. Instructions to not invite people over that can repay you.
    1. Invite the people who will never be able to repay you the kindness. (discussion of reward)
  2. Hebrews: The author of Hebrews wraps up their letter by talking about worship through hospitality and sacrifice. … but not animal sacrifice.
    1. Love like family
    1. Open your home (comments on marriage and leaders)
    1. Your way of life should be free from the love of money
    1. Do good and share what you have

INTERPRETATION:  Faith requires hospitality with genuine motivations.

  1. How to interact with the world
  2. NO STRINGS ATTACHED: Don’t cater to people because you think you’ll receive a return invitation or clout.
    1. ENTERTAINMENT: The good place show (disclaimer)– doing good for others tainted by desire to get into the good place. Their motivation isn’t good after all.
  3. ACT OF WORSHIP: Hospitality is worship and holy sacrifice.
    1. One of the most catastrophic events for a church is receiving a large gift of money. People will fight over how to use it, motivations and pride will get entangled. It is a surefire mess.
    1. My childhood church got out of debt through the sale of some land, over time the church split over how to use the equity. Some wanted to use it on themselves while others wanted to use it on their community. Their motivations were on two completely different fields and couldn’t play together.
    1. Blessing to bless others

APPLICATION: To celebrate our blessings and surplus without holding onto them like a security blanket. Rather use our blessings to bless others. 

  1. WEIGHT OF WEALTH: Both Jesus and the author of Hebrews wants us to be hospitable and not crippled by wealth, possessions, power, or pride.
    1. It’s easy for us to talk about the virtue of being poor. You learn the value of a dollar when you struggle. You cherish the little things when you go without. You appreciate every morsel when you’re hungry.
    1. We use poverty as a virtue that we don’t want to deprive someone from as if it is the only pathway to character development. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, like I did, and you’ll be more grateful than if I were to simply help you.
      1. Problem of “handout = no grit”
  2. OUR SECURITY BLANKET: rarely do we talk about the burden of having excess. The risk of sitting in surplus is we get greedy and choosy about when to let go of our excess. We want to see evidence that we should buy in—like investors on Shark Tank. Or bless others
    1. Churches hesitate to justify the budget for outreach ministry if it doesn’t lead to people coming to church or donations received.
      1. Hear me, Churches, don’t do VBS or missional outreach if all you want is butts in pews. Just actually love your neighbor, without any hope of filling the church on a Sunday morning.
  3. Last week we let go of control & let go of results in order to allow the Gospel to do it’s work
    1. Love until our death
    1. Bleed dry serving others
  4. “Happy Dollar” is the perfect example of letting our blessings bless others. We let go of our excess in an act of worship and gratitude to God with the intention of blessing others.
    1. Township in South Africa- joy with dirt floors and cardboard walls
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How could we utilize the concept of Happy Dollars in our daily lives?
      1. Your home, time, talents
      1. Bless our home to bless others

CONCLUSION: The Greatest Generation was not perfect. Their beliefs that children should be seen and not heard led to the Silent Generation’s struggles. HOWEVER, the Greatest Generation was resourceful in getting by with very little. Surviving on little and hospitality demonstrated without excess. They survived The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, and World War II.  

What if we started a trend of living off the minimum and blessing others with our excess?

What if we trained ourselves to give joyfully without worrying about return?

Last week, we let go of our legalism to open doors of hospitality. Now, we can release our security blankets, our self-preservation kit, and bless others. Whether you have surplus or are barely scraping by, God can use you. Our faith isn’t in what we have stored up in our bank accounts. Our faith is stored up in the One Who Gives Life to All.

Faith Without Control

8/21/2022

Message Title: Faith Without Control
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 12:18-29;
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:10-17 Jesus is lord of sabbath (he is the priest)
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Isaiah 58:9b-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
Focus: God is in charge of creation’s cleansing & restoration.
Function:
To release our need to control the Gospel and have faith in God’s plan & timing.
Other Notes:
faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, supply chains, utilities, politicians, fencing

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:10-17 10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. 12 When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” 13 He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God. 14 The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.” 15 The Lord replied, “Hypocrites! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? 16 Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17 When he said these things, all his opponents were put to shame, but all those in the crowd rejoiced at all the extraordinary things he was doing.

FAITH IN LIFE: Invisible Fence & HOAs

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you have dogs?
    1. Is your system successful at keeping your dog from running away?
  2. Faith in the Invisible Fence – our new home doesn’t have fencing, it has an “invisible fence.” Fortunately, we have a coward for a Great Dane. She’s yet to get shocked because the auditory warning scares her enough that she runs back to the door. But Invisible Fences aren’t fail proof; technically a dog can run right through them. They also don’t prevent other animals from coming into your property. You can only have so much faith and so much control with an Invisible Fence.
  3. So why do we use Invisible Fences? They’re already there. It costs too much money to install a privacy fence. Our HOA doesn’t allow privacy fences. We are creatures of control; HOAs are a great example of that truth. We love to control fence designs, paint colors, or even grass height.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, the author is contrasting their audience with the controlling attitude of the Exodus Generation.

Are we practicing faith if we always have 100% control 100% of the time? Will we need control like the Exodus Generation or can we embrace a lack of control through faith in God?

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 12:18-29 18 You haven’t drawn near to something that can be touched: a burning fire, darkness, shadow, a whirlwind, 19 a blast of a trumpet, and a sound of words that made the ones who heard it beg that there wouldn’t be one more word. 20 They couldn’t stand the command, If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.[b] 21 The sight was so frightening that Moses said, “I’m terrified and shaking!” 22 But you have drawn near to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in a festival gathering, 23 to the assembly of God’s firstborn children who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks better than Abel’s blood. 25 See to it that you don’t resist the one who is speaking. If the people didn’t escape when they refused to listen to the one who warned them on earth, how will we escape if we reject the one who is warning from heaven? 26 His voice shook the earth then, but now he has made a promise: Still once more I will shake not only the earth but heaven also.[c] 27 The words “still once more” reveal the removal of what is shaken—the things that are part of this creation—so that what isn’t shaken will remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude.[d] With this gratitude, let’s serve[e] in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe, 29 because our God really is a consuming fire.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. GOSPEL:
    1. Just before this passage was a parable about giving more time for fruit to flourish
    1. Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath
    1. Jesus healed an un-named woman on the Sabbath
    1. Synagogue leader rebukes him for “working” on the Sabbath
      1. …. So healing is “work” but “teaching” isn’t? …. As a pastor… teaching is work.
    1. Jesus rebukes the rebuke by referencing the common breaking of Sabbath by caring for animals.
  2. HEBREWS:
    1. The author of Hebrews tells their audience that they will be different than the Exodus Generation.
      1. The Exodus Generation wanted to keep God at arm’s length because they were scared by God’s methods. They didn’t want to be involved. “We might die if we talk to God directly…. So, Moses, you talk to him FOR us!”
        1. “God’s rules scare me, keep Him away!”
      1. This new generation would be invited to God’s holy mountain and be present in the holy places. The new generation was going to see how God transformed things with God’s justice.
    1. God’s doing a cleansing thing (shaking foundations, rocking the heavens)—Think like a giant etch-a-sketch. God’s resetting things and making it new.
      1. No fear, instead confidence and certainty in God’s plan.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. MAJOR ON THE MINORS:
    1. The synagogue leader clung to his enforcing of the Sabbath laws. However, he missed the essence of the law. Compassion is permitted on the Sabbath. – you can feed your animals or care for your animals on the Sabbath…. Sooooo…. Why can’t you HEAL A HUMAN on the Sabbath? Shouldn’t we help those bound by Satan whenever possible!?!
      1. This synagogue leader seems like the type of person who would LOOOOVE to enforce HOAs.
    1. HOAs sure make for pretty neighborhoods… but they can also make for hostile neighbors.
      1. The goal of HOAs is to protect the value of homes in a neighborhood. If everyone keeps up with things, then everyone’s home maintains value. Everyone wins.
      1. BUT sometimes people Major on the Minor with HOAs and neighborhoods become tense or even hostile to anyone that toes the line.
  2. Exodus Generation & HOAs
    1. God gave the Exodus Generation the law to help guide them. This law was to help flourish their faith in God and their relationships with each other.
    1. God did not create a law to take away our fun. God did not create a law for us to follow the letter of the law while ignoring the essence. God did not create the law for us to be the police.
  3. No HOAs, Only God: God is the one with the plan. God is the one who designed it all. God is in charge of the purifying, cleansing, justifying. God’s law sets people free and flourishes relationships. We are not the president of the HOA. We don’t get to decide who is in and who is out. We don’t get to decide if someone is redeemed. Redemption is defined by God’s standards, not ours.

APPLICATION:

  1. Control in Church-
    1. Story of control: Back at the church I grew up in, they had a coffee bar for the guests in the foyer. The intention was to provide a welcoming atmosphere. However, one particular person wanted to put up signs controlling how much people could take. … like “creamer is limited to 2 pumps.” Does that give an atmosphere of welcoming?
      1. Imagine instead of creamer, we expect guests to dress a particular way or only sit in the “guest seats.” DON’T TAKE MY SPOT!
        1. Silly Challenge: Next week, everyone will sit in a spot different from your “regular” spot.And, no, not your “back up” spot.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How could we be more hospitable on a Sunday?
      1. Greeting new people; Sitting with new people; Introducing them to others
      1. Go out to eat with them after church.
  2. Control in the Message- No HOAS
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How do we cling to our roles as Christ followers BUT release control of the Gospel?

CONCLUSION:  How do we show love and generosity while letting go of control of the Gospel?

What is the difference between letting go of control and apathy or even lethargy?

Faith in Persecution

Message Title: Faith in Persecution
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 11:29-12:2; (we are not persecuted)
Scripture Reading: Luke 12:49-56
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19; Jeremiah 23:23-29;
Psalm 82; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56
Focus: God’s faithful servants were steadfast regardless of their circumstance.
Function: To embrace the uncomfortable messiness of faith and walking the redemption journey.
Other Notes: faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, utilities, supply chains, politicians, fencing

Once again our camera did not record properly, here is the FB live recording of the service: Liberty Baptist in Tipton, IN

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 12:49-56 49 “I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze! 50 I have a baptism I must experience. How I am distressed until it’s completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I have come instead to bring division. 52 From now on, a household of five will be divided—three against two and two against three. 53 Father will square off against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud forming in the west, you immediately say, ‘It’s going to rain.’ And indeed it does. 55 And when a south wind blows, you say, ‘A heat wave is coming.’ And it does. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret conditions on earth and in the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret the present time? 

FAITH IN LIFE:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is something you wanted to buy in in the last 2 years but couldn’t because of supply chain or price changes? TP, pick-ups, Xbox, PS5, formula, gas
  2. Faith in Supply Chains- Our faith in supply chains has been rocked. Americans have been spoiled with consistent access to food, necessities, and luxuries that 2020 came as a huge shock.
    1. 2020
      1. TP shortage
      2. Panic buying food
      3. Chip shortages
    2. Formula shortages
    3. Russia/Ukraine War
      1. Oil company price gouging & finally going down
      2. Rise in food costs
  3. While we could get lost in the details of why each of those supply chain disruptions happened (since there are multiple interpretations), we instead will consider how we felt.
  4. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: how many of you felt anxiety, fear, or helplessness was supply chain issues have continued to unfold? Or other feelings?  
    1. Anyone buy chickens, garden, or purchase an acreage to help provide in the midst of uncertainty? … just us? 😀

TRANSITION:  In our text for today we will see more stories of faith. The faith of some leads to victory, while the faith of others ends with death or suffering. Can we be faithful regardless of outcome?

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 11:29-12:2 29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if they were on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried it, they were drowned. 30 By faith Jericho’s walls fell after the people marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute wasn’t killed with the disobedient because she welcomed the spies in peace. 32 What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection. 36 But others experienced public shame by being taunted and whipped; they were even put in chains and in prison. 37 They were stoned to death, they were cut in two, and they died by being murdered with swords. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats, needy, oppressed, and mistreated. 38 The world didn’t deserve them. They wandered around in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. 39 All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith40 God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us. 12 So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Gospel
    1. I’M UNCOMFORTABLE- Jesus brings FIRE AND DIVISION?!!
    2. We think we know how to read the signs of the times but we mess it up.
  2. Hebrews
    1. The faithful who God provides victory:
      1. The wandering generation: Exodus
      2. The promise land generation: Jericho, Rahab
      3. The Judges generation: Gideon, Barak (Deborah & Jael), Samson, Jephthah
      4. The Kings generation: David, Samuel
    2. The faithful who God is with in their suffering:
      1. The Prophets
      2. The Maccabean Brothers
      3. Martyrs
    3. A call to perseverance regardless of circumstance

INTERPRETATION:

  1. A RUSH TO HAPPY ENDINGS: We like to look at stories of pain from the healed, redeemed, restored angle. Let’s rush to the happy ending. They suffered BUT LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE THEY MADE! They died BUT LOOK their death led to restored relationships. They went to prison BUT LOOK they’re sober and strait-laced NOW. We perceive that it is our DUTY to get to the happy ending.
    1. Today’s passage in Hebrews lists off these amazing stories of faith … but if I’m honest… it feels a little bit like rushing to the happy ending. These are stories of struggle, suffering, and even death. YES, God claims them, restores them, and even in death they are healed. BUT! The story can also be sad.
    2. It’s ok to remain in the mess.
  2. UNCOMFY PASSAGE: The Hebrews passage feels like the EXACT opposite of the Gospel passage.
    1. Jesus is talking about bringing fire and causing division. …. Uuuummm Jesus… you ok?
      1. How does this passage work with the prayer of unity that Jesus prays in John 17?
      2. Is the GOOD NEWS of Jesus about division and fire? NO. The GOOD NEWS of Jesus is about restoration, redemption, and resurrection.
      3. This is NOT justification for hell, fire, and brimstone

APPLICATION:

  1. BACK TO INTRO: Since 2020, we’ve been in survival mode. Supply chains have been hit and people are “looking out for their own.” We don’t like being uncomfortable, therefore we hoarded provisions for OUR PEOPLE. We stopped caring for the vulnerable and EMPTIED the shelves in grocery stores. We fought for the last roll of toilet paper. I don’t care if you need it, I WANT IT! IT’S MINE!
    1. Does that sound like good news? Does that sound like living like Jesus? How did we get here? Is this what Jesus’ hands and feet look like? OR are we unable to read the signs of the times?
  2. Persecution in America:
    1. One of the mindsets that wears me down as a pastor is that of the “American Christian Martyr.” We’ve talked before about Christians who claim persecution when Starbucks changed their holiday cup design or if a store wishes you a “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Those things are not examples of persecution but evidence that we live in a cultural melting pot.
    2. Being uncomfortable isn’t persecution. Equality isn’t persecution. Correction isn’t persecution.
      1. Being corrected or called out for your failings isn’t persecution.
      2. Though it is frequently claimed, American Christians are not being persecuted today.
    3. We have been so busy trying to protect OURSELVES that we have ignored our responsibility as Christ followers to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. We’ve been fighting about covid shots or toilet paper INSTEAD of fighting FOR the people in need & at risk.
  3. EXPOSING A WOUND OF DIVISION: it would be easy to look at Jesus’ words here at face value and ignore the rest of the gospels and the rest of scripture. Fire isn’t the fire of destruction but of refining. Division is sorting truth from lie. This isn’t a unity that comes from ignoring conflict. This division comes from finally revealing the disagreements and requiring truth to win. It would be easy to use these words to justify the animosity American Christians are breeding.American Christians are persecuted.NO!We are the majority, not the minority. We are the ruling class. We are not threatened.  If we assume Jesus is embracing fire and judgement, we would be ignoring the wound in our churches and letting it fester. The absence of conflict is not peace.
    1. UMC & LGBTQ+ decision led to a church split
      1. This wasn’t a recent revelation. This has been a source of tension that has been building for a while. The infecting division has been exposed, now it’s time to clean the wound and start the healing process.
    2. Some divisions don’t make sense in my mind: the topic of homosexuality and female pastors. Excluding both groups seems illogical to me: We would rather have less Christians? We would rather have less preachers? Yes, let’s have less people talking about Jesus and living like Jesus. We wouldn’t want knowledge of Jesus to get around to the rest of the world… they might bring in their baggage.
      1. I only want new Christians IF they are completely finished with their redemption and restoration. I don’t want any work-in-progress Christians here.
        1. WHAT?!!!?!? That’s not the gospel!
        2. Jesus didn’t kick Judas out.
  4. Perseverance of faith regardless of circumstance:
    1. What if we simply acted like Jesus to others rather than trying to convert them?
    2. What if we loved people without reservation or evaluation?
      1. Regardless of political party
      2. Regardless of Gender
      3. Regardless of religion
      4. Regardless of citizenship

CONCLUSION: Intsead of claiming persecution because we are uncomfortable, let’s embrace the mess.  I will stand by Jesus’ teachings; that may lead to division by people who *think* they know what Jesus says. They *think* of a Jesus who condemns or “brings fire.” “Here’s your one-way ticket to Hell!” Rather than a Jesus who left his divine place, entered humanity, DIED ON A CROSS, and defeated death so that we may live. A Jesus who invites us into the messy process of redemption.

Let go of the label “persecution” and embrace the “work in progress.”

Faith in Waiting

Message Title: Faith in Waiting
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Scripture Reading: Genesis 15:1-6
RCL Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33:12-22; Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23; Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40
Focus: Abraham had faith in God to fulfill God’s promises.
Function:  To release our need to be people of certainty in stoic answers and find the faith in the waiting, mystery, and uncertainty.
Other Notes:
faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, utilities, supply chains, politicians, fencing

We had technical difficulties with recording the sermon. Here is the FB live recording of the service. Liberty Baptist in Tipton, IN

SCRIPTURE READING: GENESIS 15:1-6 After these events, the Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector.[a] Your reward will be very great.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.”[b] He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.” The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character.

SERMON SERIES INTRO: We owe a lot of credit to the Apostle Paul for writing a large chunk of the New Testament. If you’ve ever paid attention to the order of the NT it goes: Gospels & Acts, Paul, Maybe Paul, Claims to Be Paul but we question it, Not Paul (Hebrews Author, Peter, James, John). The Pauline Epistles get the most credit however the “not Paul” section has wonderful teachings to offer.

We do not know the name of the author of Hebrews, nor the audience. The church has many different theories about possible authors, my favorite: it was a woman and that’s why her name got lost. Most likely the audience was Jewish since the book is structured around Jewish stories. Regardless of the missing details, this anonymous book gives us great wisdom into living our faith and learning from the examples of the faith of others. We will take a Leap of Faith through the lessons of others and teaches us about the Jesus we worship.

INTRO:

  1. Faith practiced in life: Throughout this series I want to consider ways faith is present in our normal lives. Not religious faith but the act of having faith in something. We go to sleep having faith that we’ll wake up the next morning. We, hopefully, obey traffic laws and have faith that others will do the same.
  2. The time I had to practice the most amount of faith was when I worked for the YMCA Day Camp in South Dakota. During our training we had to participate in all the activities we would be bringing kids through—High Ropes being one of the best ones.
    1. We had an exercise called the “Leap of Faith” where you would climb a telephone pole, get on top of the telephone pole, and then jump to a bar out in front of the telephone pole.
    2. The feat was terrifying in itself but you also had to trust the guides to keep you safe.
    3. This photo is me doing the leap. To be honest, I don’t remember if I grabbed the bar, but I do remember trusting the folks with the other end of my rope.

TRANSITION:  Our text today brings us to the Hall of Faith in Hebrews. We will only get a glimpse into Hebrews during this series and if you take away anything from this book, examine our chapter today. Turn with me to Hebrews 11 as we examine the leap of faith of Abraham and Sarah.

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible….

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land he had been promised as a stranger. He lived in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were coheirs of the same promise. 10 He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.11 By faith even Sarah received the ability to have a child, though she herself was barren and past the age for having children, because she believed that the one who promised was faithful. 12 So descendants were born from one man (and he was as good as dead). They were as many as the number of the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. 13 All these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth. 14 People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it. 16 But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a city for them.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Genesis
    1. Context:
      1. Abram (not yet Abraham) is in the beginning of a relationship with God.
      2. Before God’s covenant with Abram
      3. Before the birth of Ishmael & the abuse of Hagar
    2. God made a promise to Abram and Abram had to take a leap of faith that God would fulfill these promises.
    3. Abram had no reason to trust God. They had no relationship prior to Genesis 12, where God tells Abram to move to Canaan.
  2. Hebrews
    1. Author defines faith: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”
    2. Lack of knowledge connecting to faith:
      1. “What we see created by what we don’t see” (MSG)
      2. Abraham went to a new land without knowing where he was going.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Genesis
    1. God didn’t tell him how many, God told him to count the stars
    2. The sun had to go down for God’s plan to be revealed (WP)
  2. Hebrews
    1. Author defines faith: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”
  3. I love that the author of Hebrews doesn’t bring up Abraham’s dirty laundry. Abraham was not a perfect dude BUT our Author focuses on Abraham’s trust in God.
    1. Abraham was called righteous for his faith in God, not for behaving perfectly.
  4. Initially, Abraham’s faith required action—HE WENT. 
    1. But then Abraham’s faith required waiting –HE STRUGGLED.

APPLICATION: To release our need to be people of certainty in stoic answers and find the faith in the waiting, mystery, and uncertainty.

  1. CHRISTIAN ARROGANCE: Christianity isn’t about being RIGHT or having all the ANSWERS. Christianity is about TRUSTING God no matter the circumstance. However, Christians frequently are at risk of holding faith in our own truth, knowledge, or experiences ABOVE God.
    1. HONESTY TIME:  Fresh out of seminary, I was the ANSWER Queen! I was very confident in my interpretations and practice and judged others harshly. My mother called me out on it. Saying that I called her faith dumb while mine was informed…. I had to work on my faith because it was filled with arrogance. While I’m still confident in my faith, it’s no longer about my own understanding but God’s guidance.
  2. Faith doesn’t require a confident knowledge; faith requires trust in the All-Knowing.
    1. It’s scary to walk by faith. Walking by faith feels more like leaping off a telephone pole than having your feet firmly planted on the ground.
    2. Not having all the answers but learning from others.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Faith requires moving forward in the midst of uncertainty; that leap of faith on top of the telephone pole was at the very edge of what I was capable of doing…. And I don’t think I could do it again today. Rather, I’m more confident in taking a leap of faith that is guided by the Spirit of God. After all, God brought me to Indiana. I didn’t know what God was up to but had to take the leap and wait on the results.

COMMUNION: We are waiting on the results of our faith in Christ. Though we have security in salvation we are waiting for the fullness of God’s promises to be fulfilled. Communion reminds us of those promises and encourages us to wait in faith.

We’re having a baby… and buying a house!

If you saw in our baby post that we’re buying a house and you wanted the full story… well, you’re in for a treat.

At the beginning of our pregnancy, really even before we got pregnant, Josh and I were dreaming of an acreage. There was one house that we were both curious about, but we didn’t investigate. We had talked with a realtor, but nothing fit our needs and our budget. So we put the house hunt on the back burner telling ourselves, “it would be crazy to move while pregnant.”

Flash forward to the week of May 8th- I had received an email that one house we were looking at months prior was still on the market. Blown away, since the housing market is currently crazy, I sent the information to Josh. Once again we said to each other, “it would be crazy to move while pregnant.”

Sunday, May 15th we were driving home from church and out of nowhere Josh says “what was the address for that house again? We could drive by it and just check it out.” I pulled up the email and got directions and had to shout “SLOW DOWN! WE HAVE TO TURN IN .1 MILES!”

We were exactly in the house’s neighborhood when Josh had the inspiration to look for that house.

We pull into the neighborhood and then turn on to the house’s lane. As we approached the house, we notice on the for sale sign it says “Open House Today 12” but it was only 11:30. So we crept by the property, looking at the beautiful yard, when the owner walks out with his dog.

He flagged us down and invited us to walk through the home– the realtor had not arrived yet since the open house hadn’t started yet.

This couple was so sweet! We quickly learned that the wife had gotten COVID right after they listed their house months ago and couldn’t show for obvious reasons. They were very close to taking it off the market and waiting for another day. We toured the property and drooled over the land and the unique layout of the home.

about the home

We quickly learned that the 5 beds and 4 baths was split between two separate living quarters: the main house and the “in-law” apartment. The in-law apartment is all on one floor. It has a kitchen, 2 baths, 2 beds, a gas fireplace, a sunroom, balcony, and laundry.

The connection point of the two living spaces is a mudroom that gives both access to the two stall garage. The main house is a ranch with a walk out backyard from the basement. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 balcony, and a patio. Below the apartment is a cellar perfect for canning and storing produce. (I don’t have photos of inside the main house empty and feel inappropriate posting pictures that include their belongings.)

The street level has 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, and a large living space.

The basement/walk out has the kitchen, dining, 1 bath, laundry, and a large living space. I LOVE this layout! The kitchen and dining AND back patio are perfect for entertaining guests in a private space. The living space also has a wood-burning stove!

what happened next?

Josh and I left the house to get some lunch. I was in love but was uncertain what he thought. We quickly realized we both wanted this house. Monday, we contacted our mortgage company to renew our pre-approval amount that had just expired. Tuesday, we contacted our lawyer about legal stuff connected to selling our home. And by Wednesday we made an offer on the home. After some negotiating we agreed on a purchase agreement.

Next step was for them to find a place to live. It took about a week and they found a home and negotiated their own purchase agreement.

THEN it was time for us to sell our house. We packed up a bunch of stuff to declutter our space. Patched some holes and had a paint debacle (long silly story). Our cleaner got sick and could not come the DAY BEFORE WE WERE SUPPOSED TO LIST! Our friend Katrina came over and helped us clean our house. She was there for 6+ hours; she is the QUEEN of all time! We listed our home Wednesday & accepted an offer on our home Saturday. (5 pets were boarded and two senior pets had to be put down in the same week.)

While this was happening, my parents sold their home for well above asking price but couldn’t find a home here. All the options were either snatched up too fast or didn’t fit their specifications. After discussion and planning, Josh and I invited them to live in the “in-law” apartment as our renters.

moving plans

We close on both homes (selling ours and buying the new one) on June 30th. We still have to make sure all our legal stuff with our lawyer lines up so that this can move forward. Barring any tragedy, this should work!

My parents’ close on their home July 1st and move to Kokomo July 2nd. They’ll live in our camper for the time being. We haven’t talked about if they want to park it in our yard or park it at a campground. Mom will need internet and that’s the key.

Our closing agreement says 25 days to take possession of our new home and 30 days to move out of our current home. When you add that up, it means we move into our new home end of July.

  • YES, we’ll have a 1.5-month-old by that time.
  • Yes, we’re hiring movers.
  • Yes, i’m still anxious about it all but OVERWHELMINGLY excited!

future plans

When we move into the home, there are few projects on the top of the priority list after we get ourselves initially situated. Then there are a few projects & plans that we will delay until a later date.

Top Priority:

  • Painting rooms: master, office, tv room, wallpaper in nursery?, “maker space”? (downstairs living room), bathroom?
  • Shed for Dad, perhaps a carport by their side of the house for additional protective parking.
  • Assess the garden situation and get our transferrable garden plants situated, including rain barrel system connected.

Later Date:

  • Garden expansion, taping trees, learning to can
  • Animals: Alpacas? Goats? Bees?
  • Extension: We dream of eventually adding on 3-4 bedrooms to the side of the house (two upstairs, two downstairs) to increase our ability to accommodate our growing family and guests.

Maternity photo shoot

Thank you Tatym Green for getting some sweet photos of us before Baby comes!

Feel free to enjoy the humor told through these photos.

If you can’t tell, I’m deeply in love with my husband and overwhelmingly excited about our baby!

There is a post about the progress of our pregnancy that I update regularly.

Crockpot Blueberry Butter

I found a recipe on fb that I had to try!

the link from Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/BestRecipeIdeas/photos/a.560198331353925/982259152481172/?type=3

this is the photo from the link with the ingredients

I do everything on hard mode…. so I made a 2.5 batch rather than following the recipe as is for the first time.

My quantities were:

  • 13 c blueberries
  • 2.5 c sugar
  • 2.5 lemons (juice & zest)
  • 4.5 tsp cinnamon

I followed the recipe instructions but because I made a bigger batch it did not reduce in the time allotted in the recipe. The cook time went like this: 1 hr low sealed, 6 hrs low vented, 1 hr low sealed, (time for bed so we’ll just put it on overnight) 8hrs high vented, (husband checked it before work and thought it still needed time) 2 hrs low vented. What a timing mess!

If I were to make this big batch again, I’d do 1 hr sealed low, 6-10 hrs vented high. checking for consistency every couple of hours.

my results: total quantity 2-24oz jars of delicious thick blueberry butter.

It tastes AMAZING! I’m a sucker for apple butter and was so happy that this blueberry butter turned out to be equally as yummy!

I definitely will make this again, maybe even as gifts for the holidays.

The Value of a Label

5/8/2022

Message Title: The Value of a Label
Theme:
Active Faith
Season: Easter
Main Text: *Acts 9:36-43;
Scripture Reading: John 10:22-30
RCL Scripture: *Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
Focus: Faith in Jesus is more about actions than words.
Function:
To put our actions where our words are by holding nothing back in our faith for Christ.
Other Notes:
MOTHER’S DAY

SCRIPTURE READING: John 10:22-30 22 The time came for the Festival of Dedication[a] in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple, walking in the covered porch named for Solomon. 24 The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me26 but you don’t believe because you don’t belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

ACTIVE FAITH EXAMPLE: Today is Mother’s Day and I’d like to talk about a spiritual mother rather than a biological mother. Mother Teresa was sainted by the Catholic church in 2016 but I believe the general population had deemed her a saint much earlier. I mean, this woman received a Nobel Peace Prize after all.

  1. I realize the humor in a Baptist talking about a Catholic saint—but if you don’t know this woman’s story, you’re missing out.
  2. In 1950, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. This congregation of nuns did mission work in over 133 countries. “Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow – to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.””
    1. One of their first missions was to provide a place for the dying–HIV/AIDS, Leper, tuberculosis- dying with dignity.
    2. BUT the coolest story? In 1982, Lebanon was in the midst of a war. This fighting led to an orphanage for disabled children being attacked. Kids were wounded, in dangerous medical states because of their disabilities or, killed in the attacks. The workers left the kids to save themselves.
      1. Mother Teresa found out about this and instantly went to work. She wanted to go save those kids. However, the officials wouldn’t bring her into save the kids without a cease fire as they were actively bombing that area. She prayed and was completely confident the next day would bring a cease fire. Sure enough, the next day came and there was a cease fire. She arrived at 5 am so the Lebanese Red Cross could bring her in to get the kids out.
    3. Sources:
      1. https://www.asianews.it/news-en/Mother-Teresa,-the-war-in-Lebanon-and-the-rescue-of-100-orphans-and-children-with-disabilities-38470.html
      2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa
  3. Talk about maternal instincts! Mother Teresa was a mother to the dying, the poor, and the orphan. She may not have birthed children but she loved as passionately as Jesus. She embodied the motherhood of God.

TRANSITION: In our text today, we will connect the words of Jesus with the actions of a woman named Tabitha. Let’s hear her story and find inspiration for our own ACTIVE Faith.

MAIN TEXT: Acts 9:36-43 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas). Her life overflowed with good works and compassionate acts on behalf of those in need. 37 About that time, though, she became so ill that she died. After they washed her body, they laid her in an upstairs room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two people to Peter. They urged, “Please come right away!” 39 Peter went with them. Upon his arrival, he was taken to the upstairs room. All the widows stood beside him, crying as they showed the tunics and other clothing Dorcas made when she was alive. 40 Peter sent everyone out of the room, then knelt and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and raised her up. Then he called God’s holy people, including the widows, and presented her alive to them. 42 The news spread throughout Joppa, and many put their faith in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed for some time in Joppa with a certain tanner named Simon.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. MT: Tabitha’s Faith
    1. It would be easy to focus this story on the actions of Peter. I mean, Peter did just raise someone from the dead. But I think the more significant story is of the woman he raised.
      1. Right in the first verse of our reading, Tabitha (aka Dorcas aka Gazelle) is called a disciple. This woman is devoted to the teachings of Jesus and her life reflects that truth.
      2. Tabitha passes away and the widows gather to mourn her. Their mourning tells a beautiful story. They pull out garments that she has made for them. This woman LITERALLY “clothed the poor.” Just like Jesus said to do. Her life was shaped around caring for the vulnerable.
      3. Disciples (likely not the 12 but other disciples like Tabitha in Joppa) request help from Peter. He came and raised her up.
      4. Tabitha’s actions and resuscitation brought people to Jesus.
  2. SR: My sheep listen to my voice.
    1. This fits perfectly with the gospel passage. Jesus is in the Temple during Hanukah. A group of Jews are asking for clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.
    2. But Jesus had just finished a whole section of “I am” statements that would have LITERALLY been Jesus giving them what they wanted. After all, God’s name is ‘I AM.” He connected the dots BUT they didn’t want to hear it.
    3. Jesus says—even my words declare this truth. He healed a man born blind before his “I am” statements. After this, he would revive Lazarus from the dead.  

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Tabitha didn’t miss it. Tabitha acted in accordance with her faith. She believed in Jesus and her actions reflected that belief. There was a chain reaction.
  2. Jesus was not only speaking but also doing the very things that SHOULD point to him being the Messiah. However, the people most educated in the scriptures didn’t see it. They missed it because of their own perceptions of who the Messiah would be or how the Messiah would act.
    1. They rejected the label of Messiah for Jesus because he didn’t fit their understanding of the Messiah.

APPLICATION:

  1. Back to intro: Mother Teresa may not have been a biological mother BUT she was a Spiritual Mother to many, not just those children she saved in Lebanon.
    1. There have been different times in her life that Mother Teresa was questioned about her methods or beliefs, especially when they were unpopular. Her response in one particular moment was to remind people to not get lost in their lives and decisions so much that they forget to love.
      1. “Mother Teresa said: “Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving.”
        1. Not get lost in the label and forget the responsibility.
  2. We can be very proud of the labels we carry: Parent, Pastor, Christian, EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE. However, labels mean nothing without actions.
    1. Mother Teresa was a mother, not because of the Catholic church but because of her ministry to others.
    2. The Jews who opposed Jesus, clung to their labels but lacked in their actions.
    3. Tabitha was exemplary in actions of her faith that she claimed. She was worthy of the label of disciple because of her actions. Labels to match the actions.
  3. We can claim to be Christians until we are blue in the face. But until we are lacking love, that label is worthless. We demean the label of Christian when we act unloving.
    1. Concepts and debates don’t win new believers; genuine loving faith wins new believers.

CONCLUSION:  In this world, you will meet people you disagree with. In this world you will interact with people who practice behaviors that you abhor. You will change no one’s mind by being an arrogant jerk.  But love can change the world. Ponder this as we listen to this song.

SONG:  Love Can Change the World by Aaron Niequist

BENEDICTION: May you finally live into the right labels. May you fully embody the name Christian, not for believing the right thing but by acting like Jesus.

Franny the Queen Bee

not how I thought today would start…

Franny (St Frances, aka Queen Fran aka Franny Bannany) is not ok. A trip to the vet has concluded that her quality of life isn’t great and it’s time for good byes.

we’re loving on her today and grieving while we make plans.

this sweet girl came into my life April of 2013. there was a HUGE ice storm in Sioux Falls that led to a city wide shut down. I found her beautiful blue eyes at the humane society and fell in love. she was quirky. she was vocal. she was sweet.

when she got home to my apartment, she had to walk through every room and closet meowing (it reminded me of echo location). if a door or closet was shut, she’d sit and meow until you opened it for her examination.

she used to sneeze in anxious situations. I haven’t seen her do that in years. l

we joke that she isn’t like her name sake (St Francis of Assisi, lover of animals) because she only loves humans. animals bug her. 🤣😂

Franny is very motherly. She would pick up stuffed animals and bring them to you with a chirping sound. she wouldn’t stop chirping until you acknowledged her gift.

this girl made me a cat mom. she was my first baby. I know it’s time. I see it in her eyes and in her movement, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to my sweet girl.

who would’ve thought our Dexter, the cancer fighter, would outlive your stubborn grumpy butt! yes, he’s still kicking, albeit slowly and snarkily.

Tomorrow Franny will cross the rainbow bridge. We had a nice last day sitting out in the country where she could munch on grass and enjoy the outside.