Order, Words, & Voices 10.10.21

Order

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Opening Audio(10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:06)

Call to Worship

Humble King (Benton Brown/Vineyard)

Live/OnLine

Prayer  Rick

Music 1 (6 Slides)                                                      Abbie & Billy

            Holy, Holy, Holy (Dykes & Heber)

Today’s Story (1 Slide) Online-Kristen J

In Person-Petty

Music 2 Abbie & Billy

            Take My Life ‘Holiness’ Underwood

Message    ‘The Impenetrable Power of Me’ Rick

Music 3 Abbie & Billy

            Here I Am To Worship (Hughes)

Community Rick

Benediction Online-Kristen J

In Person-Petty

Sharing the Peace                                         Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices and Words 

Prayer

God,

We begin this time calling out to you

You are our God

You are the God

You are the Creator of the Universe

You are the Giver of Grace

You are the Redeemer of our Souls

You are Love that Breathes Life into Each of Us

We call you Deliverer

We call you Provider

We call you Healer

We call you Holy

Even though We do not always Recognize You

Even though We do not always Understand You

Even though We do not always Listen for You

Even though We do not always Look for You

Even though – You are Still Holy

You are Still Sustenance

You are Still More

You are Still God

God, We join the Seraphs in proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Amen.

Music 1

Holy Holy Holy (Nicaea)

CCLI Song # 1156

John Bacchus Dykes | Reginald Heber

Verse 1

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee


Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Verse 2

Holy holy holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power
In love and purity

Verse 3

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea


Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Today’s Story 

Petty: Sometimes cringe worthy moments are not really about what someone else says but more about what you, yourself, say. Sometimes uncomfortable bible moments are not about what God has to say as much as it is about what others say about God.

Kristen: Those are extremely awkward moments. Like anytime we are caught talking about someone else only to find out that they were hearing everything we said.

Petty: Imagine having Jesus hearing the stuff you don’t want Jesus to hear.

Kristen: Last week we were near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it was at the crucial moment when the religious leaders began to recognize that Jesus was probably not going to be a status quo kind of leader. They probably started to see that Jesus was not like the other religious leader.

Petty: This week we are much later in the ministry of Jesus, our passage takes us the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry, now in Jerusalem and not long before the cross. It is the crescendo of religious institution’s disdain for Jesus – however, it is also a low point for the disciples of Jesus.

Kristen: It had all the makings of a high point for the disciples. The details regarding the passover meal came together miraculously. Jesus sat at the table exclusively with this intimate group, no crowds, not even his family or best friends. Then, they were also invited to join Jesus in his personal time with God. 

Petty: On top of all that Jesus told them that he was going to “confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Kristen: But history cannot ignore the low moments. Judas was listening to Satan, Peter was failing to fully listen to Jesus, and no one managed to stay awake when Jesus needed them to stay alert. Then there was Jesus instructions to sale their coats to purchase a sword and the arrest and trial.

Petty: In the midst of all of this there was the awkward conversation between Jesus’ disciples.

Kristen: ’Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest’

Petty: Followed by the uncomfortable awareness that Jesus was in the room, within hearing distance.

Kristen: Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.”

Petty: “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner?” Jesus continued, “You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin.”

Kristen: In a way, it is a lot like when the religious leaders were stuck in their thinking about washing hands – in this moment the disciples were stuck in thinking of Jesus as an earthly King, and that they would be the descendants of the earthly King, heir to the earthly throne, earthly power, celebrity.

Petty: Which of course would mean someone would have to be the next King. 

Kristen: And thus the argument began.

Petty: And thus thinking gets stuck. 

Music 2

Take My Life

CCLI Song # 1617154

Scott Underwood

Verse 1

Holiness holiness
Is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness holiness
Is what You want from me

Verse 2

Faithfulness faithfulness
Is what I long for
Faithfulness is what I need
Faithfulness faithfulness
Is what You want from me

Chorus

So take my heart and form it
Take my mind transform it
Take my will conform it
To Yours to Yours oh Lord

Verse 3

Righteousness righteousness
Is what I long for
Righteousness is what I need
Righteousness righteousness
Is what You want from me

Message‘The Impenetrable Power of Me’ (7 Slides)

In the summer of 1963, boxer Cassius Clay, unknowingly took the position of best, and most eloquent, trash talkers of all time in the release of his comedy album entitled ‘I Am The Greatest!’ The album was set up as a trash talking boxing match, with each new track labeled as a boxing match round. The entire project had been suggested to Clay by his talent agency and included one track entitled “Will the Real Sonny Liston Please Fall Down”. Clay was scheduled to fight Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship boxing match 6 months later. So, this album was actually the greatest trash talking rant of all time.

The fascinating thing about this album is seen when we take a retrospective look back. Six months after the release of this album, Clay did win the boxing match against Liston. But, also during this time Clay let it be known that he had converted to Islam and was changing his name to  Muhammad Ali. You have to wonder if the trash talking persona created by Ali and those around him six months earlier was a grasping for some sense of control. Public Relations experts, as well as the boxing industry, were pushing and pulling him to be something that he actually was not. So, in an effort to take back control of his life, in a time when he knew that the truth of his life would soon be ruinous for his career, he used the 3 things he knew he was skilled in, boxing, humor, and trash talking, to take back the narrative, to take back control.

There is a defensive mechanism within all of us that seeks to find someway to be in control of our lives.

Three times, Jesus addresses the issue of greatness with his disciples. One time Jesus has to address the issue with the mother of two of his disciples. And now, in today’s passage, just moments before Jesus is arrested, in his final teaching moment with his disciples before the cross, Jesus addresses the issue for the fifth time.

If chapter 22

If chapter 22 of the gospel of Luke were to be made into a Netflix series, at a minimum it would have to be split up into 8 episodes. That could only happen if each of those episodes were packed full of twists and turns, betrayals, rejections, disappointments, violence, injustices, miracles, backstabbing, doubts, bizarre promises, satanic control, amazing affirmations, and a well organized exclusive dinner. You could not binge this series, each episode would take a week in between to allow the viewer to recover from the latest episode and to prepare for the next.

Luke 22 plants us smack in the middle of Holy Week, Jesus had entered the Jerusalem as a crowned hero, his disciples had become instant celebrities, but that acclaim went south quickly. There was still a sense of Jesus’ significance but everything was getting a bit off. Jesus and the disciples had just finished the passover meal. Jesus had served them in dramatic style ending the meal with a dark turn. Jesus revealed that one of them would betray Jesus. This left the disciples pointing the finger at each other asking, “Is it him, or what about him, no, surely it is not me!’  And, almost instantly, the disciples went from pondering who would betray Jesus – to a contentious argument about which one of them was going to replace Jesus. 

The men became so focused on self that they forgot Jesus was right there in the room, sitting at the table. Here was Jesus, the one who had served them, listening as they were fighting over who was going to take the place of Jesus.

And so, for a fifth time, Jesus addressed the one thing that would probably be the most important thing for these soon to be leaders of the New Testament church.

That the meal ended on this argument and the teaching is not really surprising. When things began to be out of our own control, it gets scary, we circle up the wagons and began to protect ourself and all that is ‘OURS.’ We forget what Jesus has taught, we forget that Jesus is in the room. When our attention turns only to the powerful ME, then we completely forget about Jesus, even when he is the next chair over.  

Somehow, we humans, who have life because of the breath of God, are quick to only think of ourself. We automatically, especially in times of uncertainty, change or crisis, turn only to ME – OURSELF. 

“How will this affect ME?

What will this mean to ME?

How is this going to hurt ME?

How can I turn this around to benefit ME?

What about ME?!”

The Question

The Question that haunts us in this story is the same thing that still haunts us a humans – ‘Why do we, as humans, focus on self, whey do we seek to protect ourself through power and position?’ This is the question at the root of the disciples bickering.

The Impenetrable Power of Me. Instead of giving power, it take all power from us. We fail to see what and who is right in front of us. It dulls or hearing of truth. It keeps us from listening for God.

Why do we automatically desire power and greatness?

Studies

The assumed answer to this question has long been that we desire power in order to have control over people. A 2016 study disputes that assumption, the assumption that the desire for power is linked to our desire to control. In the study, the researchers, instead, reveal that the desire for power is actually a desire for autonomy – the ability to be in control of our life.  

5 slides

“While there are those who want power over and control over others, this study concluded that healthy minded persons, desire power not to be a master over others, but to be master of their own domain, to control their own fate.” (Lammers, Stoker, Rink., 2016) 

“To be autonomous does not mean to independent of others, but rather it means to feel a sense of willingness and choice when acting, whether the actions are independently initiated or are in response to a request from significant others.” (Chirkov et al., 2003) 

The disciples are in the room, they are at the table, with Jesus, power and greatness incarnate, yet, rooted in their thinking, was this desire to gain the power upper hand. They were held captive by the Impenetrable Power of Me. 

Jesus turns the assumption of what ‘being powerful’ actually means. Service, the first shall be last. Jesus had washed their feet, he had touched a leper, they had seen him constantly and automatically serve others, even in the most mundane moments – remember the wedding party that ran out of wine? And now, in this essential moment, Jesus gives a final review of the teachings they have seen as God has transparently lived, in the flesh, in their  presence.

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)

Jesus was not mad or angry with the men, he wasn’t even frustrated – Jesus was determined. Determined that they would step into the uncomfortable, that they would let themself immerse themself in the squirmy waters of greatness. That they would overcome the seemingly Impenetrable Power of Me.

How was the power of Me so powerful that it kept the disciples, who were fully convinced of the credibility of Jesus, from recognizing Jesus? Why was this understanding of greatness so essential that Jesus would spend his final moments speaking about it?

Jesus had spent the better part of the past 3 years teaching, that the only thing that can overpower the Power Of ME is the Power of THEE. This is why God scattered the descendants of Noah when it became obvious that even their unity had become a branch of Me – Us, Our. Our agenda, our reputation, our control. However, the power of THEE, is sacrifice, it is freedom, it is glued together by a servant heart, it is a recognition that we are all equally important, we are all loved by God, we are essential pieces of God’s path to His ‘will on earth as it is in heaven.’  The Power of THEE is the only thing that can truly bring us to autonomy. 

This is why Jesus spoke of his purpose being about abundance and life, this is why the apostle Paul would later focus so much on unity, this is why the selfish deceit of Annanias and Saphirra was so dangerous, this is why Jesus was now enlightening his disciples that the key to greatness is the service and sacrifice.

Les Miserables

The broadway musical Les Miserables depicts the catalyst moments leading up to the French revolution. A revolt of the peasants and marginalized against a system where those that had the least were required to carry the greatest burden. A call from a persecuted people for autonomy and freedom, for life. It was a revolution, in the beginning, which began as an effort to allow all people to live with dignity and hope. It was a revolution that finally began as a people realized the only way to achieve greatness was if they were to lower themselves to be servants, to offer themselves in sacrifice for others. They recognized the ramification of The Power Of Thee, of greater purpose than just ME, which would then permit there to be the essential power in WE. This can be heard in their voices, 

“Will you give all you can give

So that our banner may advance?

Some will fall and some will live

Will you stand up and take your chance?

The blood of the martyrs

Will water the meadows of France!”

(‘Do You Hear The People Sing.  Boublil, Schonberg, Kretzmer, Natel.) 

Jesus said, “the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

(Luke 22:26-27)

What about these words of Christ makes us most uncomfortable? What area of our life are we least willing to let those words bathe over us? 

Let’s pray.

Music 3

Here I Am To Worship

CCLI Song # 3266032

Tim Hughes

Verse 1

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes let me see

Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Chorus

So here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
And You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

Verse 2

King of all days
Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above


Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

Bridge

And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross


And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross 

Community

Community

hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Study – Thursday

Next Sunday – ‘Abominable’ Lev 18 & 20 

Benediction

Petty: As we go from this place led by an eternal King who is a servant, a servant who is the King.

Kristen: As we go we remember the example of a humble servant who is our King, who is our Deliverer, who is our Hope.

Petty: We do not go led by a King who is stuck in the ways of man, the ways of earth, the stuckness of sin, we go led by the eternal King, the eternal servant.

Kristen: We follow the servant who has revealed that victory is in serving.

Petty: Victory is in compassion.

Kristen: Victory is in mercy.

Petty: We follow the King, who is the Servant, in the path of Grace.

Kristen: We follow the Servant, who is the King, in the path of Peace.

Petty: We go from this place, to our places, where we brush elbows with those to which God has extended Grace.

Kristen: We go from this this place, to our place, where we will join with all go humanity whom God holds with Mercy and Compassion.

Petty: We go from here, to there, and everywhere we go, we go in Love.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.

Jesus said ‘what’?! 10.03.21

Order

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


#1 ONE Video #1 (3:02)
Call to Worship
Hold On To Me				Lauren Daigle

Live/OnLine
Prayer						Rick
Music 1						Abbie & Billy
               Redeemed (Crosby & Kirkpatrick)
Story						Online-Kelly
						In Person-Linda
Music 2						Abbie & Billy
                Victory in Jesus (Bartlett)
Message    ‘Jesus said What?!?’		Rick
Music 3				                       Abbie & Billy
               Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Lemmel)
Community					Rick
Benediction					Online-Kelly
						In Person-Linda
Sharing the Peace				Rick

Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices & Words


Prayer

God,
May we honor you in the practices of our faith.
May we glorify in the actions of our work.
May we respect you, and others, with the words of our mouths.
May we love you with our relationships and engagements.

God,
Reveal to us that which does not honor you.
Show us our actions that do not glorify you.
Confront us when our words do not reflect you.
Stop us when our relationships and engagements are not defined by love.

God,
Today we choose to listen for you.
Today we choose to look for you.
Today we choose to open our hearts to you.
Today we choose to willingly follow you.

God,
Today we ask that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen.


Music 1

Redeemed
CCLI Song # 30622
Fanny Jane Crosby | William James Kirkpatrick
Verse 1
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed thru His infinite mercy
His child and forever I am
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 2
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus
No language my rapture can tell
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 3
I think of my blessed Redeemer
I think of Him all the day long
I sing for I cannot be silent
His love is the theme of my song
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am

Story 


If nothing else, Covid has taught to wash our hands. We have learned the necessity of washing hands before and after eating or preparing food; before and after caring for someone at home who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound, before and after using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;  after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after handling pet food or pet treats, after touching garbage
That is exhausting, but it seems like most of that is common sense.
You would think, but it also seems like a lot of hand washing.
We haven’t just learned when we need to wash hands, we have also learned the ‘HOW’ of washing hands.  Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap; lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, also lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails - scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds…
Or just sing Happy Birthday…..at regular speed, don’t cheat.
Then rinse hands underneath running water, then dry hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Shall we give the instructions on using hand sanitizer?
Maybe we could get a root canal instead.
A focus on hand washing is not new.
It would have come in handy in the 1300s during the Black Death plague.
Jesus actually confronted the religious leadership about their diligence and insistence regarding hand washing but what he said had a twist. They would harshly judge those who failed to wash their hands correctly and at the right times.
I don’t think that was about hygiene and germ transmission as much as it was about keeping their religious traditions.
The prophet Isaiah referred to it as ‘holding to heartless religious practices,’; Jesus said that they were actually abandoning God’s commandment and instead holding to their own religious legalities.’
They were really stuck on being clean. Or on judging others.
It is strange, washing hands is a good thing, but once we humans get ahold of it and make it a tradition or religious act it becomes unclean.
I’m sure that applies to a many areas outside of hand washing as well.
I’m sure you are right.


Music 2

Victory In Jesus
CCLI Song # 1259
Eugene M. Bartlett
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 1
I heard an old old story
How a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 2
I heard about His healing
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see
And then I cried dear Jesus
Come and heal my broken spirit
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Close
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood


Message        ‘Jesus Said What?!?’
It all began with unwashed hands, actually 12 pairs of unwashed hands. Ironically, it was not really about washing hands. The owners of these 12 pairs of hands had no idea their lack hygienic diligence would be the spark that would set Jesus on the ultimate path to Jerusalem and the cross. No one was to blame for this was Jesus’ purpose.

It was with no ill will that the religious leaders pointed out to Jesus that his followers were eating with unwashed hands. They were not being hateful, they were helping this young rabbi out with his rough edged followers.

‘Jesus’ followers didn’t  wash their hands.’ The leaders thought, ‘Let’s give him a hand, help him to raise his crew to acceptability.’

In describing Mark 7, Biblical Theology Professor at Princeton Theology Seminary C. Clifton Black, says this,

“If we, too, are not gobsmacked (by Mark 7), it’s a safe bet that we have domesticated Jesus and have neutered the gospel.”

Up to this point there had been no hostility between Jesus and the religious leaders. Jesus did have a run in back in Nazareth, but that was not really theological or practices, it was perceived as more personal  - this interchange, however, would soon be considered an assault on the religious institution and its practices. Jesus was speaking blunt truth, blunt truth is difficult to accept.

Back to hand washing, if there is anything we have learned from this pandemic it is that personal hygiene is a win-win for everyone. God had gifted the Hebrews with hygiene instructions for health reasons. Over time, however, these healthy habits became obligatory religious practices. Washing hands had ceased to be about washing hands and, instead, it was elevated to a human instituted religious action.

A good thing became a holy thing which became a legalistic thing, and ultimately a judging and condemning thing.
Jesus pointed out to the leaders that their holy hand washing had become more important than the actual commands. They had exchanged what was truly holy for that which was truly good, while turning what was good into something that was unholy.

Jesus explained it in a manner they leaders would understand and relate to by comparing it to the their ancestors prior to the exile,

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.  You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Mark 7:6-8

In this moment, Jesus makes a defining statement of purpose along with a confrontation of the religious establishment. Confronting the belief that people and other created things can make us unclean, whereas, Jesus’ proclaimed truth is that it is what we, in our heart, do with those things. Additionally, Jesus was leading them into the messy world of where the deliverer would not only associate with people considered unclean, but worse, the deliver who would allow himself to die in an undignified, messy, manner as the the cross.

Think for a moment of all the things we automatically blame for our sin. The externals that we point to when explaining our sinful world. We blame the media, the atheists, the conservatives, the liberals, the entertainers, the politicians, educators, scientists, and more ultimately we blame Satan - none of these things have the power to defile us. We can only be defiled when we permit to internally defile us. Therefore, washing hands is good hygiene but it is not a sound faith practice.
Next, a gentile woman approached Jesus begging him to heal her daughter. Jesus response was to say that he came to earth for the Israelites, not the ‘Dog’ gentiles.

Jesus referred to the woman, her daughter, and her people as ’Dogs’.  A Dog?! Did Jesus really say that? This was as offensive as any word we have in our forbidden vocabulary. The very saying of it was an assault on the worth and importance of more than half the population of God’s creation. A Dog?! What made it more offensive is that this form of the word spoke of a house dog, a pet, not a human.

There are two primary theories regarding Jesus’ offensive response.

Let’s start with the less squirmy one - Jesus was intentionally reflecting the attitudes, opinions, racism, prejudices present in the hearts of the listeners, including his own disciples. This attitude of scorn and superiority towards this Samaritan woman would have been ingrained in the minds and attitude of the listeners. ‘Dog’ could have easily been a racist slur that rolled of children’s lips from a very young age. It is possible that no one even gave the perceived connotations of this word a second thought. Much like the ’N’ word, it was consider to be just another way to identify a person. However, if you were a Samaritan or a gentile it carried much baggage and pain - it was brutally offensive. To the Samaritan it was a reminder of her ancestral history, of the extensive generational persecution, and the lifetime of dismissal.

The second theory and more uncomfortable theory is, and I will pose this in the form of a question ‘What if this was actually a pivotal human moment in the life of Jesus?’ Meaning, what if, Jesus too, grew up in an atmosphere, and then was affirmed by his community, where this type of word was unnoticed? What if using this word did not carry the meaning to Jesus that it carried for the Samaritan woman? What if this was a moment for God in the flesh to live out the human experience of accepting confrontation and correction? And in doing so, exampling it to all of us, and, letting us see that racism is sin (as is true with any sin) once we are enlightened. What if this story is really about our confrontation response to responses such as ‘I am not a racist, my words are not racists, my grandad taught me those words and grandad was not a racist!’ Or, ‘how can anyone keep up with all the things that are NOW offensive?’

What if God is gifting us our own version of the law to make us aware of the pain we cause, of the creation of sin inside of us? What if this is another example of a heartless faith that has little regard for the greatest commandment - Love God and Love Others? What if our acceptance or rejection of these moments of correction is our opportunity for repentance and to change?

Both theories teach us that stubborn pride keeps us from growing and maturing in our faith.

Both theories tell us that judging and dismissing any people or persons as ‘less than us’ is sinful the minute it is pointed out.
Both theories reveal that Jesus’ journeyed in times similar to ours, times of racism, judgement, and condemnation. We refuse to look further than our own discomfort,  disagreement, or disdain. What if a black athlete kneeling during the national anthem is God giving us a gift revealing the judgement in our heart. What if the BLM rally in the park is God nudging us into recognizing the pain inflicted on others for generations?

What does it say when we critique and criticize instead of leaning into the possibility that God is giving us a chance to change, to repent. Giving us a chance to clear the log jam out of our path so we can continue to grow in our relationship with him.

Both theories call us to holiness. Both theories have closure with the response of the woman. The woman does not argue that she is, or is not, a ‘dog’, but, instead, her counter response is a recognition of her faith based on the grace of God - ‘even the dogs under the table get to eat the crumbs that are dropped to the floor. God loves all, ‘even though we may not be the chosen people, we are loved by our creator nonetheless.’
The woman had an amazing faith because she knew it was not about her. It was not about her label or status, it was not what others thought of her, it was not about worth. It was totally about God is. She approached Jesus in perfect bulldog humility. She was not worthy but she knew that her worth was not a factor to God.

Mark 7, along with Matthew 15, depicts Jesus as an an equal opportunity offender, there is something for all followers of Christ to be made uncomfortable. C. Clifton Black continues his earlier comments by adding,

“Jesus’ offensiveness is a fact we must face. A conservative congregation will be affronted by Jesus’ claim that defilement comes from within, not from without. Liberal Christians resist the notion that a socially progressive Jesus would say what Mark ascribes to (Jesus) or, worse, that the Gentile so insulted would accept (Jesus’) slur. The deeper question is whether we can follow a Christ so repulsive as to die by crucifixion. Jesus flummoxes (perplexes) everyone who boxes him into conventional expectations: the pious, his family, his disciples, and even some petitioners.”
C. Clifton Black
Biblical Theology Professor, Princeton Theology Seminary

Mark 7 is not a teaching on racism, nor is it a confrontation of religion. It is the truth that God has given us through the pandemic - humility. We are not the center of the universe, nor are we the center of humanity. We are circling truth, sometime uncomfortable truth, just like everyone else that God has created and loves. It is a lesson of love that leads us to sacrifice, to care, to notice what our inside is saying.
King David got ahold of this truth, he realized that there were things in his own heart, seen in his own life, that were unholy, things that hurt others - things that he had no idea were there. He didn’t pridefully protect his ground, nor did he set out to prove that he was perfect, instead he said to God,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

Here is the important part, King David, after saying this, then, he listened. It is then that we truly allow the message of Christ to work in us.

Let’s pray.


Music 3

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
CCLI Song # 15960
Helen H. Lemmel
Verse 1
O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Verse 2
Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Close
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
 
Community
Community
Work Day Ammended Thanks
hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Studies begins This Thursday
Next Sunday - ‘the impenetrable power of me’
Covid Update/Thanks
    
Benediction Blessing

May we go from here and honor God with our hearts.
May we go from here and honor God also with our lips.
May our worship of God be heart, mind, and soul.
May we settle for nothing less than truth.
May God, who knows our hearts and thoughts, test us.
May God, reveal to us what is found.
May we willingly listen to discovered.
May we go from here willingly led by God to life.


Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.Order


Sunday, October 3, 2021


Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


#1 ONE Video #1 (3:02)
Call to Worship
Hold On To Me                                       Lauren Daigle


Live/OnLine
Prayer                                                       Rick
Music 1                                                      Abbie & Billy
               Redeemed                                Crosby & Kirkpatrick
Story                                                         Online-Kelly
                                                                   In Person-Linda
Music 2                                                      Abbie & Billy
                Victory in Jesus                         Bartlett
Message    ‘Jesus said What?!?’               Rick
Music 3                                                       Abbie & Billy
               Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus        Lemmel
Community                                                 Rick
Benediction                                                Online-Kelly
                                                                       In Person-Linda
Sharing the Peace                                        Rick


Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices & Words


Prayer

God,
May we honor you in the practices of our faith.
May we glorify in the actions of our work.
May we respect you, and others, with the words of our mouths.
May we love you with our relationships and engagements.

God,
Reveal to us that which does not honor you.
Show us our actions that do not glorify you.
Confront us when our words do not reflect you.
Stop us when our relationships and engagements are not defined by love.

God,
Today we choose to listen for you.
Today we choose to look for you.
Today we choose to open our hearts to you.
Today we choose to willingly follow you.

God,
Today we ask that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen.


Music 1

Redeemed
CCLI Song # 30622
Fanny Jane Crosby | William James Kirkpatrick
Verse 1
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed thru His infinite mercy
His child and forever I am
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 2
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus
No language my rapture can tell
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 3
I think of my blessed Redeemer
I think of Him all the day long
I sing for I cannot be silent
His love is the theme of my song
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am

Story 


If nothing else, Covid has taught to wash our hands. We have learned the necessity of washing hands before and after eating or preparing food; before and after caring for someone at home who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound, before and after using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;  after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after handling pet food or pet treats, after touching garbage
That is exhausting, but it seems like most of that is common sense.
You would think, but it also seems like a lot of hand washing.
We haven’t just learned when we need to wash hands, we have also learned the ‘HOW’ of washing hands.  Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap; lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, also lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails - scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds…
Or just sing Happy Birthday…..at regular speed, don’t cheat.
Then rinse hands underneath running water, then dry hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Shall we give the instructions on using hand sanitizer?
Maybe we could get a root canal instead.
A focus on hand washing is not new.
It would have come in handy in the 1300s during the Black Death plague.
Jesus actually confronted the religious leadership about their diligence and insistence regarding hand washing but what he said had a twist. They would harshly judge those who failed to wash their hands correctly and at the right times.
I don’t think that was about hygiene and germ transmission as much as it was about keeping their religious traditions.
The prophet Isaiah referred to it as ‘holding to heartless religious practices,’; Jesus said that they were actually abandoning God’s commandment and instead holding to their own religious legalities.’
They were really stuck on being clean. Or on judging others.
It is strange, washing hands is a good thing, but once we humans get ahold of it and make it a tradition or religious act it becomes unclean.
I’m sure that applies to a many areas outside of hand washing as well.
I’m sure you are right.


Music 2

Victory In Jesus
CCLI Song # 1259
Eugene M. Bartlett
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 1
I heard an old old story
How a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 2
I heard about His healing
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see
And then I cried dear Jesus
Come and heal my broken spirit
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Close
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood


Message        ‘Jesus Said What?!?’
It all began with unwashed hands, actually 12 pairs of unwashed hands. Ironically, it was not really about washing hands. The owners of these 12 pairs of hands had no idea their lack hygienic diligence would be the spark that would set Jesus on the ultimate path to Jerusalem and the cross. No one was to blame for this was Jesus’ purpose.

It was with no ill will that the religious leaders pointed out to Jesus that his followers were eating with unwashed hands. They were not being hateful, they were helping this young rabbi out with his rough edged followers.

‘Jesus’ followers didn’t  wash their hands.’ The leaders thought, ‘Let’s give him a hand, help him to raise his crew to acceptability.’

In describing Mark 7, Biblical Theology Professor at Princeton Theology Seminary C. Clifton Black, says this,

“If we, too, are not gobsmacked (by Mark 7), it’s a safe bet that we have domesticated Jesus and have neutered the gospel.”

Up to this point there had been no hostility between Jesus and the religious leaders. Jesus did have a run in back in Nazareth, but that was not really theological or practices, it was perceived as more personal  - this interchange, however, would soon be considered an assault on the religious institution and its practices. Jesus was speaking blunt truth, blunt truth is difficult to accept.

Back to hand washing, if there is anything we have learned from this pandemic it is that personal hygiene is a win-win for everyone. God had gifted the Hebrews with hygiene instructions for health reasons. Over time, however, these healthy habits became obligatory religious practices. Washing hands had ceased to be about washing hands and, instead, it was elevated to a human instituted religious action.

A good thing became a holy thing which became a legalistic thing, and ultimately a judging and condemning thing.
Jesus pointed out to the leaders that their holy hand washing had become more important than the actual commands. They had exchanged what was truly holy for that which was truly good, while turning what was good into something that was unholy.

Jesus explained it in a manner they leaders would understand and relate to by comparing it to the their ancestors prior to the exile,

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.  You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Mark 7:6-8

In this moment, Jesus makes a defining statement of purpose along with a confrontation of the religious establishment. Confronting the belief that people and other created things can make us unclean, whereas, Jesus’ proclaimed truth is that it is what we, in our heart, do with those things. Additionally, Jesus was leading them into the messy world of where the deliverer would not only associate with people considered unclean, but worse, the deliver who would allow himself to die in an undignified, messy, manner as the the cross.

Think for a moment of all the things we automatically blame for our sin. The externals that we point to when explaining our sinful world. We blame the media, the atheists, the conservatives, the liberals, the entertainers, the politicians, educators, scientists, and more ultimately we blame Satan - none of these things have the power to defile us. We can only be defiled when we permit to internally defile us. Therefore, washing hands is good hygiene but it is not a sound faith practice.
Next, a gentile woman approached Jesus begging him to heal her daughter. Jesus response was to say that he came to earth for the Israelites, not the ‘Dog’ gentiles.

Jesus referred to the woman, her daughter, and her people as ’Dogs’.  A Dog?! Did Jesus really say that? This was as offensive as any word we have in our forbidden vocabulary. The very saying of it was an assault on the worth and importance of more than half the population of God’s creation. A Dog?! What made it more offensive is that this form of the word spoke of a house dog, a pet, not a human.

There are two primary theories regarding Jesus’ offensive response.

Let’s start with the less squirmy one - Jesus was intentionally reflecting the attitudes, opinions, racism, prejudices present in the hearts of the listeners, including his own disciples. This attitude of scorn and superiority towards this Samaritan woman would have been ingrained in the minds and attitude of the listeners. ‘Dog’ could have easily been a racist slur that rolled of children’s lips from a very young age. It is possible that no one even gave the perceived connotations of this word a second thought. Much like the ’N’ word, it was consider to be just another way to identify a person. However, if you were a Samaritan or a gentile it carried much baggage and pain - it was brutally offensive. To the Samaritan it was a reminder of her ancestral history, of the extensive generational persecution, and the lifetime of dismissal.

The second theory and more uncomfortable theory is, and I will pose this in the form of a question ‘What if this was actually a pivotal human moment in the life of Jesus?’ Meaning, what if, Jesus too, grew up in an atmosphere, and then was affirmed by his community, where this type of word was unnoticed? What if using this word did not carry the meaning to Jesus that it carried for the Samaritan woman? What if this was a moment for God in the flesh to live out the human experience of accepting confrontation and correction? And in doing so, exampling it to all of us, and, letting us see that racism is sin (as is true with any sin) once we are enlightened. What if this story is really about our confrontation response to responses such as ‘I am not a racist, my words are not racists, my grandad taught me those words and grandad was not a racist!’ Or, ‘how can anyone keep up with all the things that are NOW offensive?’

What if God is gifting us our own version of the law to make us aware of the pain we cause, of the creation of sin inside of us? What if this is another example of a heartless faith that has little regard for the greatest commandment - Love God and Love Others? What if our acceptance or rejection of these moments of correction is our opportunity for repentance and to change?

Both theories teach us that stubborn pride keeps us from growing and maturing in our faith.

Both theories tell us that judging and dismissing any people or persons as ‘less than us’ is sinful the minute it is pointed out.
Both theories reveal that Jesus’ journeyed in times similar to ours, times of racism, judgement, and condemnation. We refuse to look further than our own discomfort,  disagreement, or disdain. What if a black athlete kneeling during the national anthem is God giving us a gift revealing the judgement in our heart. What if the BLM rally in the park is God nudging us into recognizing the pain inflicted on others for generations?

What does it say when we critique and criticize instead of leaning into the possibility that God is giving us a chance to change, to repent. Giving us a chance to clear the log jam out of our path so we can continue to grow in our relationship with him.

Both theories call us to holiness. Both theories have closure with the response of the woman. The woman does not argue that she is, or is not, a ‘dog’, but, instead, her counter response is a recognition of her faith based on the grace of God - ‘even the dogs under the table get to eat the crumbs that are dropped to the floor. God loves all, ‘even though we may not be the chosen people, we are loved by our creator nonetheless.’
The woman had an amazing faith because she knew it was not about her. It was not about her label or status, it was not what others thought of her, it was not about worth. It was totally about God is. She approached Jesus in perfect bulldog humility. She was not worthy but she knew that her worth was not a factor to God.

Mark 7, along with Matthew 15, depicts Jesus as an an equal opportunity offender, there is something for all followers of Christ to be made uncomfortable. C. Clifton Black continues his earlier comments by adding,

“Jesus’ offensiveness is a fact we must face. A conservative congregation will be affronted by Jesus’ claim that defilement comes from within, not from without. Liberal Christians resist the notion that a socially progressive Jesus would say what Mark ascribes to (Jesus) or, worse, that the Gentile so insulted would accept (Jesus’) slur. The deeper question is whether we can follow a Christ so repulsive as to die by crucifixion. Jesus flummoxes (perplexes) everyone who boxes him into conventional expectations: the pious, his family, his disciples, and even some petitioners.”
C. Clifton Black
Biblical Theology Professor, Princeton Theology Seminary

Mark 7 is not a teaching on racism, nor is it a confrontation of religion. It is the truth that God has given us through the pandemic - humility. We are not the center of the universe, nor are we the center of humanity. We are circling truth, sometime uncomfortable truth, just like everyone else that God has created and loves. It is a lesson of love that leads us to sacrifice, to care, to notice what our inside is saying.
King David got ahold of this truth, he realized that there were things in his own heart, seen in his own life, that were unholy, things that hurt others - things that he had no idea were there. He didn’t pridefully protect his ground, nor did he set out to prove that he was perfect, instead he said to God,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

Here is the important part, King David, after saying this, then, he listened. It is then that we truly allow the message of Christ to work in us.

Let’s pray.


Music 3

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
CCLI Song # 15960
Helen H. Lemmel
Verse 1
O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Verse 2
Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Close
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
 
Community
Community
Work Day Ammended Thanks
hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Studies begins This Thursday
Next Sunday - ‘the impenetrable power of me’
Covid Update/Thanks
    
Benediction Blessing

May we go from here and honor God with our hearts.
May we go from here and honor God also with our lips.
May our worship of God be heart, mind, and soul.
May we settle for nothing less than truth.
May God, who knows our hearts and thoughts, test us.
May God, reveal to us what is found.
May we willingly listen to discovered.
May we go from here willingly led by God to life.


Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.


Live/OnLine
Prayer                                                       Rick
Music 1                                                      Abbie & Billy
               Redeemed                                Crosby & Kirkpatrick
Story                                                         Online-Kelly
                                                                   In Person-Linda
Music 2                                                      Abbie & Billy
                Victory in Jesus                         Bartlett
Message    ‘Jesus said What?!?’               Rick
Music 3                                                       Abbie & Billy
               Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus        Lemmel
Community                                                 Rick
Benediction                                                Online-Kelly
                                                                       In Person-Linda
Sharing the Peace                                        Rick


Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices & Words


Prayer

God,
May we honor you in the practices of our faith.
May we glorify in the actions of our work.
May we respect you, and others, with the words of our mouths.
May we love you with our relationships and engagements.

God,
Reveal to us that which does not honor you.
Show us our actions that do not glorify you.
Confront us when our words do not reflect you.
Stop us when our relationships and engagements are not defined by love.

God,
Today we choose to listen for you.
Today we choose to look for you.
Today we choose to open our hearts to you.
Today we choose to willingly follow you.

God,
Today we ask that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen.


Music 1

Redeemed
CCLI Song # 30622
Fanny Jane Crosby | William James Kirkpatrick
Verse 1
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed thru His infinite mercy
His child and forever I am
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 2
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus
No language my rapture can tell
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Verse 3
I think of my blessed Redeemer
I think of Him all the day long
I sing for I cannot be silent
His love is the theme of my song
Chorus
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed (redeemed) redeemed (redeemed)
His child and forever I am

Story 


If nothing else, Covid has taught to wash our hands. We have learned the necessity of washing hands before and after eating or preparing food; before and after caring for someone at home who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound, before and after using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;  after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after handling pet food or pet treats, after touching garbage
That is exhausting, but it seems like most of that is common sense.
You would think, but it also seems like a lot of hand washing.
We haven’t just learned when we need to wash hands, we have also learned the ‘HOW’ of washing hands.  Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap; lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, also lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails - scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds…
Or just sing Happy Birthday…..at regular speed, don’t cheat.
Then rinse hands underneath running water, then dry hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Shall we give the instructions on using hand sanitizer?
Maybe we could get a root canal instead.
A focus on hand washing is not new.
It would have come in handy in the 1300s during the Black Death plague.
Jesus actually confronted the religious leadership about their diligence and insistence regarding hand washing but what he said had a twist. They would harshly judge those who failed to wash their hands correctly and at the right times.
I don’t think that was about hygiene and germ transmission as much as it was about keeping their religious traditions.
The prophet Isaiah referred to it as ‘holding to heartless religious practices,’; Jesus said that they were actually abandoning God’s commandment and instead holding to their own religious legalities.’
They were really stuck on being clean. Or on judging others.
It is strange, washing hands is a good thing, but once we humans get ahold of it and make it a tradition or religious act it becomes unclean.
I’m sure that applies to a many areas outside of hand washing as well.
I’m sure you are right.


Music 2

Victory In Jesus
CCLI Song # 1259
Eugene M. Bartlett
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 1
I heard an old old story
How a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Verse 2
I heard about His healing
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see
And then I cried dear Jesus
Come and heal my broken spirit
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory
Chorus
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood
Close
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood


Message        ‘Jesus Said What?!?’
It all began with unwashed hands, actually 12 pairs of unwashed hands. Ironically, it was not really about washing hands. The owners of these 12 pairs of hands had no idea their lack hygienic diligence would be the spark that would set Jesus on the ultimate path to Jerusalem and the cross. No one was to blame for this was Jesus’ purpose.

It was with no ill will that the religious leaders pointed out to Jesus that his followers were eating with unwashed hands. They were not being hateful, they were helping this young rabbi out with his rough edged followers.

‘Jesus’ followers didn’t  wash their hands.’ The leaders thought, ‘Let’s give him a hand, help him to raise his crew to acceptability.’

In describing Mark 7, Biblical Theology Professor at Princeton Theology Seminary C. Clifton Black, says this,

“If we, too, are not gobsmacked (by Mark 7), it’s a safe bet that we have domesticated Jesus and have neutered the gospel.”

Up to this point there had been no hostility between Jesus and the religious leaders. Jesus did have a run in back in Nazareth, but that was not really theological or practices, it was perceived as more personal  - this interchange, however, would soon be considered an assault on the religious institution and its practices. Jesus was speaking blunt truth, blunt truth is difficult to accept.

Back to hand washing, if there is anything we have learned from this pandemic it is that personal hygiene is a win-win for everyone. God had gifted the Hebrews with hygiene instructions for health reasons. Over time, however, these healthy habits became obligatory religious practices. Washing hands had ceased to be about washing hands and, instead, it was elevated to a human instituted religious action.

A good thing became a holy thing which became a legalistic thing, and ultimately a judging and condemning thing.
Jesus pointed out to the leaders that their holy hand washing had become more important than the actual commands. They had exchanged what was truly holy for that which was truly good, while turning what was good into something that was unholy.

Jesus explained it in a manner they leaders would understand and relate to by comparing it to the their ancestors prior to the exile,

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.  You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Mark 7:6-8

In this moment, Jesus makes a defining statement of purpose along with a confrontation of the religious establishment. Confronting the belief that people and other created things can make us unclean, whereas, Jesus’ proclaimed truth is that it is what we, in our heart, do with those things. Additionally, Jesus was leading them into the messy world of where the deliverer would not only associate with people considered unclean, but worse, the deliver who would allow himself to die in an undignified, messy, manner as the the cross.

Think for a moment of all the things we automatically blame for our sin. The externals that we point to when explaining our sinful world. We blame the media, the atheists, the conservatives, the liberals, the entertainers, the politicians, educators, scientists, and more ultimately we blame Satan - none of these things have the power to defile us. We can only be defiled when we permit to internally defile us. Therefore, washing hands is good hygiene but it is not a sound faith practice.
Next, a gentile woman approached Jesus begging him to heal her daughter. Jesus response was to say that he came to earth for the Israelites, not the ‘Dog’ gentiles.

Jesus referred to the woman, her daughter, and her people as ’Dogs’.  A Dog?! Did Jesus really say that? This was as offensive as any word we have in our forbidden vocabulary. The very saying of it was an assault on the worth and importance of more than half the population of God’s creation. A Dog?! What made it more offensive is that this form of the word spoke of a house dog, a pet, not a human.

There are two primary theories regarding Jesus’ offensive response.

Let’s start with the less squirmy one - Jesus was intentionally reflecting the attitudes, opinions, racism, prejudices present in the hearts of the listeners, including his own disciples. This attitude of scorn and superiority towards this Samaritan woman would have been ingrained in the minds and attitude of the listeners. ‘Dog’ could have easily been a racist slur that rolled of children’s lips from a very young age. It is possible that no one even gave the perceived connotations of this word a second thought. Much like the ’N’ word, it was consider to be just another way to identify a person. However, if you were a Samaritan or a gentile it carried much baggage and pain - it was brutally offensive. To the Samaritan it was a reminder of her ancestral history, of the extensive generational persecution, and the lifetime of dismissal.

The second theory and more uncomfortable theory is, and I will pose this in the form of a question ‘What if this was actually a pivotal human moment in the life of Jesus?’ Meaning, what if, Jesus too, grew up in an atmosphere, and then was affirmed by his community, where this type of word was unnoticed? What if using this word did not carry the meaning to Jesus that it carried for the Samaritan woman? What if this was a moment for God in the flesh to live out the human experience of accepting confrontation and correction? And in doing so, exampling it to all of us, and, letting us see that racism is sin (as is true with any sin) once we are enlightened. What if this story is really about our confrontation response to responses such as ‘I am not a racist, my words are not racists, my grandad taught me those words and grandad was not a racist!’ Or, ‘how can anyone keep up with all the things that are NOW offensive?’

What if God is gifting us our own version of the law to make us aware of the pain we cause, of the creation of sin inside of us? What if this is another example of a heartless faith that has little regard for the greatest commandment - Love God and Love Others? What if our acceptance or rejection of these moments of correction is our opportunity for repentance and to change?

Both theories teach us that stubborn pride keeps us from growing and maturing in our faith.

Both theories tell us that judging and dismissing any people or persons as ‘less than us’ is sinful the minute it is pointed out.
Both theories reveal that Jesus’ journeyed in times similar to ours, times of racism, judgement, and condemnation. We refuse to look further than our own discomfort,  disagreement, or disdain. What if a black athlete kneeling during the national anthem is God giving us a gift revealing the judgement in our heart. What if the BLM rally in the park is God nudging us into recognizing the pain inflicted on others for generations?

What does it say when we critique and criticize instead of leaning into the possibility that God is giving us a chance to change, to repent. Giving us a chance to clear the log jam out of our path so we can continue to grow in our relationship with him.

Both theories call us to holiness. Both theories have closure with the response of the woman. The woman does not argue that she is, or is not, a ‘dog’, but, instead, her counter response is a recognition of her faith based on the grace of God - ‘even the dogs under the table get to eat the crumbs that are dropped to the floor. God loves all, ‘even though we may not be the chosen people, we are loved by our creator nonetheless.’
The woman had an amazing faith because she knew it was not about her. It was not about her label or status, it was not what others thought of her, it was not about worth. It was totally about God is. She approached Jesus in perfect bulldog humility. She was not worthy but she knew that her worth was not a factor to God.

Mark 7, along with Matthew 15, depicts Jesus as an an equal opportunity offender, there is something for all followers of Christ to be made uncomfortable. C. Clifton Black continues his earlier comments by adding,

“Jesus’ offensiveness is a fact we must face. A conservative congregation will be affronted by Jesus’ claim that defilement comes from within, not from without. Liberal Christians resist the notion that a socially progressive Jesus would say what Mark ascribes to (Jesus) or, worse, that the Gentile so insulted would accept (Jesus’) slur. The deeper question is whether we can follow a Christ so repulsive as to die by crucifixion. Jesus flummoxes (perplexes) everyone who boxes him into conventional expectations: the pious, his family, his disciples, and even some petitioners.”
C. Clifton Black
Biblical Theology Professor, Princeton Theology Seminary

Mark 7 is not a teaching on racism, nor is it a confrontation of religion. It is the truth that God has given us through the pandemic - humility. We are not the center of the universe, nor are we the center of humanity. We are circling truth, sometime uncomfortable truth, just like everyone else that God has created and loves. It is a lesson of love that leads us to sacrifice, to care, to notice what our inside is saying.
King David got ahold of this truth, he realized that there were things in his own heart, seen in his own life, that were unholy, things that hurt others - things that he had no idea were there. He didn’t pridefully protect his ground, nor did he set out to prove that he was perfect, instead he said to God,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

Here is the important part, King David, after saying this, then, he listened. It is then that we truly allow the message of Christ to work in us.

Let’s pray.


Music 3

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
CCLI Song # 15960
Helen H. Lemmel
Verse 1
O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Verse 2
Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are
Chorus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Close
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
 
Community
Community
Work Day Ammended Thanks
hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Studies begins This Thursday
Next Sunday - ‘the impenetrable power of me’
Covid Update/Thanks
    
Benediction Blessing

May we go from here and honor God with our hearts.
May we go from here and honor God also with our lips.
May our worship of God be heart, mind, and soul.
May we settle for nothing less than truth.
May God, who knows our hearts and thoughts, test us.
May God, reveal to us what is found.
May we willingly listen to discovered.
May we go from here willingly led by God to life.


Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.

Time for a Copernicus Revolution?

Order

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:41)
Call to Worship
Wisdom Song (Laura Woodley Osman)

Live/OnLine
Prayer                                                         Rick
Story                                                           Online-Hannah/Andrew
                                                                                In Person- Nikki/Dave
Music 1                                                         Abbie & Billy
           Grace Greater than our sin                        Towner & Harriette Johnston
Beyond Our Marketplace                           In Person - Rick
                                                                                 On Line - Rick & Lita Sample
Music 2                                                          Abbie & Billy
            In Christ Alone                                            Keith & Townend
Message    ‘Copernicus Revolution’           Rick
Music 3                                                          Abbie
           Amazing Grace/Chains are Gone              Tomlin, Newton, & Giglio
Community                                                   Rick
Benediction                                                  Online-Hannah/Andrew
                                                                                  In Person- Nikki/Dave
Sharing the Peace                                        Rick


Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices & Words

Prayer

God,

We look at our pain, we cry out in our afflictions, we think all hope is lost, we see nothing but misery.

We remind ourself that our hope is the hope that can only come from you.

We cannot erase the troubles from our minds, the grit of ashes line our throat, the taste of poison sits on our tongue.

We cannot forget, we may be at the bottom of a deep pit, but it is there that we remember hope and on it our grasp is firm.
God, your love never runs out, your mercy never dries up. Your love and mercy is new every morning.

How Great is your faithfulness! This is why we stay, your are our harbor of my refuge.

For the one who passionately waits, and to the other who diligently seeks, you are the hope that carries us through good and bad.

This is why we stick it out, for ultimately, all we have is you.

We stay because you are faithful even when we are not.

Your stockpiles of loyal love are immense and have no bottom.

We gather before you, for you alone are our hope.
Amen.
(Lamentations 3:16-33)


Our Story 

You say you want a revolution.  Well, you know we all want to change the world. You tell me that it's evolution well, you know we all want to change the world.  But when you talk about destruction don't you know that you can count me out…

Count me out?

I think it might be count me in.

Count me in, count me in for destruction?

I hope that’s not right.

Let me amend that…But when you talk about destruction don’t you know that you can count me out, no in, no out, maybe in?

That sounds a lot better.

Does it?

Can I continue?

That depends, are you going to say it’s going to be alright?

Are you going to claim to have a real solution

You are not going to ask me for a contribution are you?

These are not my words, they come from John Lennon, I’m just doing what I can.

Not that I know this John guy, but I agree that can just do what we can do.

I’m not sure that is really what he was saying.

I agree. To say ‘I’m just doing what I can’ is kind of like saying, ‘I don’t really want to do anything that will cost me, anything that does not require sacrifice.”

Which is probably why he was singing about a revolution.

Changing our mind, reversing our self centered attitudes and beliefs, usually takes a revolution.
Sometimes, a revolution produces destruction that is really not destructive, it is actually constructive. It eliminate the wrong thinking, the selfish thinking, and replaces it with right thinking, selfless thinking.
Like the descendants of Noah who traveled from the east and stopped at the same place. They all thought the same, they all spoke the same, they all agreed and never disagreed. Their minds were stuck, they couldn’t even see that they had limited themselves to themselves. They were ignoring all who thought and spoke differently than them. Then dismissed anyone different, anyone who wasn’t them.
They were so stuck that they couldn’t see outside of themself, they could only see themself, soon they saw themself as God.
God saw the dangerous direction they were headed and said, ‘“Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them to places beyond their limited perspective, he forced them to consider life outside their selves. 
They began to speak differently, think differently, disagree, and have to listen and learn. God shook them up and scattered them. God started a revolution - they didn’t even realize that they were part of this significant event. They soon realized that they didn’t know everything and that they couldn’t do everything, and that they were not God.
They saw it as an inconvenience but it was significant beyond their marketplace. Makes you wonder what revolution God is inviting us to join.
So I guess we do want to count ourself in.


Music 1
Grace Greater Than Our Sin
    CCLI Song # 31690
    Daniel Brink Towner | Julia Harriette Johnston
Verse 1
Marvellous grace of our loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt

Chorus
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Verse 2
Sin and despair like the sea waves cold
Threaten the soul with infinite loss
Grace that is greater yes grace untold
Points to the refuge the mighty Cross

Chorus
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Verse 3
Marvellous infinite matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe
You that are longing to see His face
Will you this moment His grace receive

Chorus
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace grace God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin


Music 2
In Christ Alone
CCLI Song # 3350395
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
Verse 1
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Verse 2
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

Verse 3
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

Verse 4
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand


Message        ‘Copernicus Revolution’

Change is difficult, it is uncomfortable. When change intersects with the established norms, it can become dangerous and deadly. Even change that is accepted and firmly rooted often finds that it is never fully secure. Think about revolutions aimed to make right the ingrained wrongs right and just.

Consider the revolution in Tunisia which officially began in Tunisia on December 18, 2010. The metaphoric and literal spark for the revolution took place the day before, December 17, as a 26 year old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest injustices. His death embolden thousands to take to the streets and even spread to 19 other middle east nations. This week, Tunisia’s first democratically elected president announced that he will rule by decree  decimating the gains of the revolution - change is just difficult, sometimes it takes too much work, sometimes it is easier to go back to the comfortable miserable ways things were before.

In the mid 1500s two revolutions took place reverberating around the globe impacted everything from religion to astronomy, economic systems to social systems, calling out arrogance and abuse. They did not take place with force, but there were some afflicted and a handful of casualties. These revolutions began in the heart of a small handful of individuals who found that they could not remain blind to truth, that they could not ignore injustice, that they were not able to be silent. One began as a young monk stepped out on the city square and proclaimed his confrontation of the established church by nailing his complaints, 99 of them, to the church door. The other began as a mathematician, astronomer, economist, religious leader hesitantly and slowly began to share an equation he had formulated.

When Martin Luther challenged the well ingrained religious system that had held onto unquestioned power and political influence for over a thousand years he was surely aware of the scorn that would come his way. When Nicolaus Copernicus began sharing his equation with his contemporaries he feared their rejection and dismissal.

Luther’s battle cry was ‘Justification by faith alone’ - Copernicus was ‘We are not the center of the universe.’ Luther’s study of the Bible led him to the conclusion that many of the practices and teachings of the church were errant and often abusive, practices that were seemingly set in stone. Copernicus study of astronomy, mathematics, and even religion brought him to the conclusion that the earth, indeed, is not the center of the universe, another deeply accepted theory.

When your audience sees no need in change, persuasion is like banging your head against a brick wall. Just ask the prophet Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or any of their contemporaries who were confronting the heartless religion of the Hebrews. The were preaching to a crowd that took pride in their diligence to religious practices and their holy sounding words.

Sometimes a change of heart and mind is the most difficult revolution attempted. If you narrow it down, both men were fighting against s likeminded close-mindedness. Luther was fighting against a religious institution that had their massive roots deep and secure since 300 years after Christ.  The power of those being questioned who had never been questioned before was outrageous. Luther was fighting against an ingrained belief that the church was the center of the universe. Copernicus too was in a battle against ingrained, seldom questioned, misconstrued, deeply rooted errant beliefs and at war against the belief that the earth was the center of the universe.

Being the center is the naturally desired place to reside. It is our human nature to look out for self first.

Accepting change is difficult for all of us, listen to the words of  Martin Luther as he sat around a dinner table discussing Copernicus.

"There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.”
Martin Luther

This is what we do, when reality does not match up with our view of truth, our interpretation of scripture, we turn our back on reality, and in this case science itself, and embrace failed views of scripture. Luther used Joshua 10:10-15 to ignore the possibility that his view of truth was incorrect. We all do that.

The Holy Spirit works often times by making us squirmish in the face of our reality and doctrine. The Holy Spirit works to bring us to an uncomfortable place which serves as the catalyst to dig deeper, to search further. Instead, we often ignore reality and the Holy Spirit, we seek to discredit the experts, especially the scientists, we hold firmly to a human held theory of God’s truth. We become lazy, we look at the obstacles and decide that they are too huge and we are too small. So, we choose to accept falsehoods dismissing the reality that lies in front of us, we go backwards instead of forward in our relationship with God.

Consider the tower at Babel. A story of a group of people who had placed themself at the center of their belief and their faith. The story of Babel is not really a story about building a tower, but about the people themself. Their endeavor came from a wrong perspective motivated by an errant philosophy. They sought to secure their place, to make sure the world knew that they were the true center of the world. The problem was this group of people were the descendants of the three sons of Noah - a severely flawed group that grew as a people from a single perspective of the universe. In their eyes they were important, they were essential, they were always right. God had rescued them alone allowing everyone else to perish - they had to be the VIPs of the universe. Building the tower was an attempt to proclaim this fact. God saw this group of inbreds, a people who heard no voice except their own, a people who saw themselves as the center not only of the universe, but as equal with God. They had no other voices to hear or perspectives to see. They alone reigned, they alone were powerful, they alone were were the center. God saw the power of this acceptance, this blind adherence, and he scattered them. He mixed up their language so communication would be difficult and require work. God scattered them to new perspectives and to new opinions, and different voices. God shook up their comfort and sent them out. God put the seed for revolution within them. It was now their choice, what they would do with this was up to them.

Another revolutionary, over a thousand years before Luther and Copernicus made an uncomfortable stir among the people and their institutions . Jesus stood in front of a crowd of thousands and proclaimed God’s call to faith. Jesus’ words were unfamiliar, they were uncomfortable, they made the most confident squirm. The words challenged, shook, confronted, and even outraged. Words that tore at deeply held beliefs, and assumptions that had become their perceived truth. The words were in direct conflict with their own stance at the center of the universe, words that were foreign to their reality.  Jesus said…

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.“

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being filled with care, you find yourselves cared for.”

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s  when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
Matthew 5:3-10 (MSG)

British Theologian, John Hicks, argues that it is past  time for us to have a theological revolution like that of Copernicus in which ‘God assumes the prime place at the center and Christianity joins the orbit of the great religions circling around. Like the scientific revolution, this one requires the surrender of the primary place and privileged view. Absolute truth moves to the center of the system, leaving people of faith with meaningful perceptions of that truth. This does not require anyone to give up the claim to uniqueness. It only requires the acceptance of unique neighbors, who concur that the brightness they see at the center of everything exceeds their ability to posses it.’
Barbara Brown Taylor, Holy Envy

Is it time for Copernicus Revolution in your mind and heart?


Music 3
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
CCLI Song # 4768151
Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio

Verse 1
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see

Verse 2
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Chorus
My chains are gone I've been set free
My God my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love amazing grace

Verse 3
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Verse 4
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine
 

Community
Community
Work Day Thanks
hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Studies begin
Next Sunday - ‘Jesus said what?!?’
Covid Update/Thanks
    
Bendiction Blessing

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today we would listen to his voice! Psalm 95:6-7

The prophet Isaiah said: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 16:14-16

 As we leave this place and enter our marketplace, my the world see a new heart and a new spirit within each of us.

As we venture into our public square, may we engage with all others as Christ engaged with them.

In our journey here and beyond, may we allow God to be or shepherd and may we listen for his voice.

In all that we do may our eyes be open and may our ears listen to hear.


Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, hope, and squirmy revolution, go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take God’s instruction to open the doors of our hearts and minds into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s go to show the world that the Kingdom of God is near, let’s go and bring peace along with us to share, let’s go speaking words of the Father, let’s go expressing gratitude for all we’ve been given, let’s go letting the world see the Incarnate Response of God. Let’s us go taking advantage of all our squirmish moments. Let’s go willingly being a revolutionary avenue of God. Let’s go!

Is Squirminess a Spiritual Gift?

09.19.21

Order

Sunday, September 19, 2021 

Opening Audio (10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (5:08)

  • Call to Worship

            Thrive (Casting Crowns)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                                           Rick
  • Music 1                                          Abbie & Billy

            Mighty To Save                           Fielding & Morgan

  • Story                                             Online-Jaimie

In Person- Peyton

  • Music 2                                          Abbie & Billy

            Be Thou My Vision                      Hull & Byrne

  • Message        ‘Squirminess’          Rick
  • Music 3                                           Abbie

            Show Me Your Ways                   Russell Fragar

  • Community                                    Rick
  • Benediction                                    Peyton
  • Sharing the Peace                          Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices & Words

Prayer

God,

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. God, may we gather this morning in your light. May we permit your light to permeate the darkness. May we see truth.

Amen. Psalm 139:1-12

Music 1

Mighty To Save

CCLI Song # 4591782

Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan

Verse 1

Ev’ryone needs compassion

Love that’s never failing

Let mercy fall on me

Ev’ryone needs forgiveness

The kindness of a Saviour

The hope of nations

Chorus

Saviour He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever Author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

Verse 2

So take me as You find me

All my fears and failures

Fill my life again

I give my life to follow

Ev’rything I believe in

Now I surrender

Chorus

Saviour He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever Author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

Bridge

Shine your light and let the whole world see

We’re singing

For the glory of the risen King

Jesus

Shine your light and let the whole world see

We’re singing

For the glory of the risen King

Chorus

Saviour He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever Author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

Close

So take me as You find me

All my fears and failures

Fill my life again

Our Story

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

No, it’s not there.

Why don’t you read it this time, maybe I missed it.

I don’t think you did, but here is goes – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

No, it’s not there. There is no gift of Squirminess.

Maybe he mixed it up and meant to point us to the list before, “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.”

I’m pretty sure that he didn’t mean to say that those things were gifts from the Holy Spirit.

Well, I just going to subtly leave the zoom meeting so no one will notice I’m gone. This could get awkward.

You are going to just leave me in this uncomfortable situation, these people are staring at me!

Well don’t get all squirmy. That is just going to make it worse.

As I see it, we have two choices. One is to take the easy way and just leave, just assume that this whole morning is a mistake and that squirminess is not really a spiritual gift. Or, we can try to figure it out. Maybe that is what this is all about.

Seeking, Searching, and Finding. Letting awkward moments like this push us to find truth instead of just accepting things that are not necessarily true.

It is either that or we could just take a pen and change it to “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, squirminess, and self-control.

I think it fits.

I think your right

Music 2

Be Thou My Vision

CCLI Song # 30639

Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne

Verse 1

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, Save that Thou art

Thou my best thought, By day or by night

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Verse 2

Be Thou my wisdom, Be Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee, And Thou with me Lord

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling, And I with Thee one

Verse 3

Riches I heed not, Nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance, Now and always

Thou and Thou only, Be first in my heart

High King of heaven, My treasure Thou art

Close

Thou my best thought

By day or by night

Waking or sleeping

Thy presence my light

Message        ‘Squirmishness’

Today we begin our new series entitled ‘Uncomfortable.’  I was recently told that this Series title itself causes discomfort. That is understandable. Our human nature naturally seeks comfort, we crave to be with those who make us comfortable, we avoid those situations and people that make us uncomfortable. Being comfortable is often the primary factor in the friends we have, the clothes we wear, the leaders we follow, the path we take, the places we live, the structures we live in, the people we live around.

When our oldest son Caleb was a toddler he became very opinionated about the clothes he would agree to wear. To get him to get dressed he resisted anything less than ‘comfortable clothes.’ It was a daily battle until he and Andrea came to an agreement that he could always wear either comfortable pants, or a comfortable shirt. I think his first job out of law school was acceptable once he found out that they had a strict ‘comfortable clothes’ policy.

Desiring to be comfortable is natural, it provides a mental and physical easiness in our existence. However, a priority of comfort can also be a restrictive burden in our lives. Faith often discomfort. The very definition of faith ‘the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1) is anxiety inducing just to see it in written form. To tie our belief system merely to that which we hope for, and to center our core on that which we are unable to see is not a badge of security, nor does it seem to be a comforting guarantee. But this the definition of faith, it is an unknown, it is a risk, it is a promise, it is uncontrollable, it is uncomfortable.

The risk of being uncomfortable is that we often seek to find comfort in the midst of our discomfort. In seeking difficult truth, we strive to find someone else to seek and search for us. We want a hero that can give us all the answers so we do not have to dig for ourself. We seek to easy accept a version of truth from others and we want to make them the source of our unshakable and unquestioned truth – then, relieved of the burden, we want to then stop and be comfortable. We rest on our Billy Grahams and Jerry Falwell and their descendants. We  choose pastors of large churches, successful writers of Christian Books, often times we even hand over the governance of our perceived truth to politicians and political pundits.

However, true truth and  foundational faith cannot be outsourced, it is a personal endeavor, a personal journey…and it can be, and often is, very uncomfortable to let go of those crutches we use to avoid being uncomfortable.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

― M. Scott Peck, Road Tess Traveled

This new series is going to take us to some bible stories and teachings we have traditionally entrusted to others. We are going to be stretched as we release their answers of others, and the defined truth we have consistently outsourced – the questionable truth, which we have never questioned, that which we have allowed to be come rock solid in our hearts and minds. Possible errant ‘Christian theology and interpretation’, that we have failed to pursue a full investigation. We are hopefully going to be led to allow the Holy Spirit to show us those elements of our faith, of our truth, of our comfort that are untrue, inaccurate, and not really as comfortable we we have deceived ourselves into thinking.

One more thing, somewhat of a technical notation:

The Rabbinical tradition, meaning the thought process of the Rabbis, specifically before Babylon conquered Israel and Judah, was that the Torah, specifically the first five books of our Old Testament which we often cal the books of Moses or the Pentateuch, was revealed in two parts, one was the written part and the other was the oral part (also known as the Mishnah). The written part was the basics of the law God gave to Moses and the Oral law, often referred to as the ‘Border wall around the Torah,’ – God’s continued narrative and illustration of the Law.

An example: The written law said that we are to not work on the Sabbath, the oral law said don’t walk too far because that was similar, and could easily lead to, work.

Prior to the exile, the rabbis refused to write out the Oral law because they feared that the cautious restrictive nature of the narrative would become legalistic teachings used to control, judge, and condemn.

Whereas the written law was written for our own good – ‘rest on the sabbath’; the oral law was then an effort to keep us from the brink of violating the written law, ‘don’t drag a stick, it is a lot like plowing a field.’ It is important to recognize that much of what we use as a tool of condemnation was originally given, by God, to be a loving caution given to keep us from the edge…to keep us from judging others, condemning others, and even hating others.

After the destruction of the temple and the exile, the Israelites no longer had the temple, a place where they would be taught the Oral Law, so, the rabbinical official policy was changed out of necessity. The Oral law began to be written out in the same manner as the Written law so all could hear and learn.

This morning we begin by looking at the Spirit’s tool in the midst of our uncomfortableness – our discomfort – Squirminess.

Following creation, in the garden, Eve stood admiring the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We can only speculate why she was staring at the forbidden tree, especially when there were so many other beautiful, unforbidden, trees available to look at. Now, as she stood there the cunning serpent began to speak to her,

‘Are you sure you cannot eat from that tree?’ The serpent asked.

‘Right’ she said, ‘Do not eat it, don’t even touch it, or we will die.’

This was Eve’s moment of squirminess. She had named the command from God ‘Don’t eat it’ this was the same as the written law, then Eve had added her own oral law, maybe this was a recommendation from God, ‘Don’t even touch it.’ It was the protective fence around the tree. In saying this to the serpent, she was receiving it as her own reminder. The question from the serpent was used by the Spirit as a gift, an opportunity to ground herself in God’s truth, ‘Don’t eat from that tree.’ This momentary gift, became a moment of squirminess when the serpent challenged the instruction of God, ‘You won’t die,’ he laughed. She stood with the gift of squirminess, just having reminded herself of the law, and after taking a moment to stop at the proverbial gate of the wall around God’s truth. For Eve, this squirminess was a gift, it was a moment to choose God’s strength to grab ahold of God’s truth.

Squirminess is our moment of choice, our opportunity of free choice. It is the moment when the Spirit provides us the reminder of truth and shows us the boundaries we need to observe (for our own good).  We then can choose to dismiss the gift, or we can choose to let this gift of squirminess lead us into a seeking of truth, a stronger faith, a renewed journey of searching for God.

Squirminess is our opportunity to follow God, however, the longer we are choose to stand in the midst of the squirminess the more uncomfortable we may get. Squirminess will either strengthen us or we will allow let it destroy us.

Our challenge, in the midst of truth, of sin, and of faith, is to listen for those moment of discomfort, those moments when we squirm.  As we hear the teachings, practices, and interpretations of truth, as taught and seen in others, it is our responsibility to listen for those moments of discomfort, to look for those times of our own squirminess and to respond by seeking and searching for truth.

How comfortable are you? Have you mastered the art of ignoring your own squirminess. Have you given away your own obligation of defining truth by giving any the opportunity to think to someone else.

Let’s Pray.

Music 3

Show Me Your Ways

CCLI Song # 1675024

Russell Fragar

Verse

Show me Your ways

That I may walk with You

Show me Your ways

I put my hope in You

Chorus

The cry of my heart

Is to love You more

To live with the touch

Of Your hand

Stronger each day

Show me Your ways

Verse

Show me Your ways

That I may walk with You

Show me Your ways

I put my hope in You

Chorus

The cry of my heart

Is to love You more

To live with the touch

Of Your hand

Stronger each day

Show me Your ways

Close

Stronger each day

Show me Your ways

Community

  • Community
  • Dirty Hands Day – Next Saturday, September 25, 9am to noon, bring gloves, tools, etc.
  • hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Studies resume in October (7 weeks) Survey closes tomorrow. Link at GFNorman.com
  • Next Sunday – ‘Are We Ready for a Copernicus Revolution?’
  • Covid Update/Thanks

Benediction Blessing

For it was God who formed our inward parts; it was God who knit us together in our mother’s womb.

It was God who fearfully and wonderfully made us. Wonderful are God’s works; by those works we know God very well.

Our frame was not hidden from God as we were being made in secret, we were intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

God’s eyes beheld our unformed substance. In God’s book is written all the days during which we were formed, long before any of those days had yet existed.

How weighty are God’s thoughts towards us. How vast is the sum of the moments God thinks of us! We can try to count them but they are more than the grains of sand on the beach; regardless of where we are, God is still therewith us.

May God know us and know our heart; may God test us and know our thoughts.

God, see if there is any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting.

(Psalm 139:13-18, 23-24)

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, hope, and squirmishness, go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take God’s instruction to open the doors of our hearts and minds into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s go to show the world that the Kingdom of God is near, let’s go and bring peace along with us to share, let’s go speaking words of the Father, let’s go expressing gratitude for all we’ve been given, let’s go letting the world see the Incarnate Response of God. Let’s us go taking advantage of all our squirmish moments. Let’s go!

Incarnate Response 09.05.21

Order
Sunday, September 5, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify – Coffee Table Jazz

#1 ONE Video #1 (?)

  • Call to Worship

I See You (J.J. Heller)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                            Rick
  • Music 1                             Abbie

        I Love To Tell The Story         Hankey & Fischer

  • Story                            Online-Kelly

In Person- Martha & Paul

  • Music 2                            Abbie

        Come Thou Fount            Wyeth & Robinson

  • Message    ‘Incarnate Response’               Rick
  • Music 3                            Abbie

        How Great The Father’s Love    Stuart Townend

  • Community                             Rick
  • Benediction                                 Online-Kelly

In Person- Martha & Paul

  • Sharing the Peace                          Rick

Closing Audio
Spotify – Calm Jazz

Voices & Words

Prayer

God,
You are love.
You are mercy, compassion, hope, and peace.
You have rescued us from our own choices.
You have delivered us from our failures.
You have healed us in our brokenness.
God, give us a vision of us having your love for your beloved.
Give us a vision of what your compassion in us could do in our world.
Give us a vision of what your mercy could do in our lives.
God, show us how to share peace.
Show us how to convey your hope.
God, show us how to show you through our lives.
Amen.

Our Story

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

I’ve had to let my kid go, it is difficult!

Me too, releasing them and letting them make their own decisions is really difficult!

“God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but in that the world might be saved through him.”

There is a difficult thing, to not judge.
That may be as difficult as releasing your kids.

Maybe it is even more worse!

God so loved the us all.

and preached a message of love.

At one point Jesus sent 70 of his followers ahead of him to all the towns he was going to. He told them ““Whenever you enter a home, share your peace. If it your peace is accepted, the peace will remain; if not, the peace will return to you. “When you enter a village, don’t shift around from home to home, but stay in one place, eating and drinking without question whatever is set before you. And don’t hesitate to accept hospitality! “If a town welcomes you, follow these two rules: 1. Eat whatever is set before you, and 2.  Heal the sick; and as you heal them, tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is very near you now.’

Peace, Food, and Hope.

What else could you need?
And when Jesus was calling his disciples he called out to some fishermen and said, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And they dropped their nets and followed Jesus, and eventually carried Jesus’ work on after his ascension.

They were ready to go right them? Amazing.

They could tell that Jesus knew them.

They were ready for the next step in fishing.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

“God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but in that the world might be saved through him.”

God loves us all.

Music 2
Come Thou Fount
CCLI Song # 108389
John Wyeth | Robert Robinson

Verse 1
Come Thou fount of ev’ry blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Verse 2
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy grace Lord like a fetter
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Close
Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Message        ‘Incarnate Response’

In 1915 the Truth Seeker Company published their 10th addition of their book Crimes of Preachersin the United States and Canada In order to prove that preachers are sinners by publishing names and sins. The Rev. Dr. Madison C. Peters  penned the introduction saying:

“The average minister has only to preach a twenty-minute or half-hour sermon on Sunday, and this, with a mid-week meeting, constitutes his week’s work. They eat and drink of the choicest products of the earth; they visit only the homes of the wealthy, where they are sumptuously entertained; so their carnal passion becomes the master of their being, and they fall away from grace, shocking the community and scandalizing the church of God.”
Rev. Dr. Madison C. Peters

The Barna Research group (contemporary polling for ministries and churches) has conducted surveys to gage the public perception of U.S. Christian Evangelicals for years.  The National Evangelical Association defines the beliefs of Christian Evangelicals as:

  • The Bible is our highest authority.
  • Christians must encourage others to trust Jesus.
  • Jesus’ death is the only avenue to God’s forgiveness.
  • Those who trust in Jesus Christ receive salvation.

The 2018 study found that Evangelical Christians, mostly perceived themselves as being caring, hopeful, friendly, encouraging, generous, misunderstood and good humored.
While non-Christians, perceived Evangelicals as narrow minded, homophobic, puritanical, uptight, invasive, misogynistic, racist, selfish, foolish, hurtful, and unhappy.

Let’s remember – only the Incarnate Response of God to our sin is redemptive. Imagine that, God, THE God who we rejected became human to heal our broken relationship with God. God the father so disheartened released his own son as act to heal us, redeem us, rescue even while we remain in our sin. Incarnation was the only  act which could heal our brokenness. We are gifted with the undeniably greatest message ever and yet we are dismissed, loathed, even hated… how is that possible?

You may be thinking it is because Evangelicals are martyrs, that we are persecuted because of our faith, that we are misunderstood, we are unfairly misjudged. However, the truth is that we are narrow minded, homophobic, puritanical, uptight, invasive, misogynistic, racist, selfish, foolish, hurtful, and unhappy. Wait, there is a but, I don’t think that translates into Believers are Bad – but instead because we have forgotten the amazing nation of our message. – Our message of Peace, Healing, and HopeAnd, therefore, we are distracted from living in peace, healing, and hope.

Peace – first asset

As Jesus was preparing his 70 messengers to go ahead of him he said,

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’” the same message that Jesus used following the resurrection. Peace.

Rural Afghans comment that they don’t care who rules them, or the type of rule, saying, ‘we just want peace, we want the bombing and fighting to cease. We just want peace.’

Jesus knew peace because Jesus lived in a state of peace. Even in Jesus’ most agonizing moment, there was Peace. Peace never diminishes even when we give it away.  A peace filled presence is our act of giving peace. A presence of peace cannot be faked or phony. Peace is only present when we do not exchange it for chaos or turmoil, when we don’t permit it to be overtaken with agendas or overwhelm it with the human theories, teachings, and speculation.

Our peace is grounded on:

  1. The life of Jesus – God’s outlandish Incarnate Response to our Human Condition.
  2. The death of Jesus – God’s unrestrained sacrifice in response to or Human Condition.
  3. The resurrection of Jesus – God’s intended Live, Aliveness.

Healing – second asset
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there
Luke 10:8-9a

Jesus sent his messengers to spread peace and instructed them to heal. This healing is huge, it was not just physical but it was also about the mental, the emotional, relational, spiritual, and eternal. It was about all those things that break and consume our peace.

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20

The works of God through the messengers was personal, not  a huge revival tent, no posters on the walls of every building, no door knockers, postcard mailings, or Facebook ads, – it was personal. We may not see Satan fall, or safely step on snakes and scorpions – but God works through us in the midst of our life.

  1. Through Peace. Peace allows us to focus, to see, to led our minds consider truth. Peace gives us a clarity to receive truth, it gives us the opportunity to permit healing. Earthly, eternal, physical, mental, emotional – Healing.
  2. In the Marketplace and Public Square. Jesus told the messengers to take nothing with them, no money, food, etc – all the rational things you take when you are on a journey. They were to experience the reality of hospitality – an engrained Middle Eastern tradition even today. They were put right in the middle of the strangers, they waited for in the city square. Constantly they were not only receiving from the people, but they are were on display to the people. They were seen. Their confidence and assurance was on vivid display, but, the scars, and failures were as well. Their response to victory as well as their response to their own failures and mistakes were seen. There were no coverups, no PR people, it was just them, raw, vulnerable, and real.
  3. Stance on God’s promise, our works are not the foundation of our journey. We do not stand on the acceptance or rejection of humans, the thing we stand on is the promise of God, we know that we will not be abandoned.

A point about healing. We have a linguistics problem. One of the most abused and subjective words in our vocabulary is the word ‘sin’ yet this word is automatic. A word that as taken on a variety of meanings and an array of visuals. Believers have turned the word ‘sin’ into an attack, an offensive word to hurt and belittle, it is said with condescension, judgement, and condemnation. It no longer communicates what we need to communicate. It Is a biblical word that has been perverted and now no longer provides an avenue to recognizing the Divine Sacrifice of God’s Incarnate Response.

We need a different perspective, an adjusted attitude, we need a better word. The word ‘sin’ is ingrained deeply within us. Ironically, the use of this word actually reinforces our sinful attitudes of judgment and condemnation. Our common use of the word ‘sin’ is a factor in our own sin.  To use the word ‘sin’ is usually a result of the presence of judgement and condemnation in our life.

Years ago I sat on a stage with an atheist young man. Our topic was ‘How can different faith groups/individuals come together to do good in our community?’ A woman in the audience got my attention when she timidly being shared being called a sinner was hurtful. The statement is correct, she was a sinner. However, she was right as well, the modern use the word ‘sinner’ is hurtful and falls short of the understanding that we are all sinners. The result is not a mutual brokenness, but instead a hierarchy of worth.

During Covid, I grabbed a ladder to trim a tree in our front yard. I moved stealthily my actions were stupid. Standing on top of the ladder Jim, from across the street, stopped on the sidewalk looking up at his idiot neighbor. In the most gentle manner possible he attempted to tell me that this was an unwise idea, that it was going to lead to brokenness. Jim shared his own personal experience with this stupidity. I heard his words, I knew his words, I didn’t heed his words. Jim walked away, I fell and ended up in the ER with a huge knot on my forehead and a thread of texts from my children each asking ‘Why was dad on a ladder?!’ In the end, I too was forbidden from using a ladder. In making the choice that I knew was wrong, I physically ‘broke’ my body, I also broke one of the relationship boundaries I have with my wife and kids, the boundary of ‘not doing stupid stuff that can kill me.’ Later, I admitted to neighbor Jim what had happened he responded with empathy instead of judgement. He understood.

What if we could see others as we see ourselves. To recognize the stupidity that comes with our humanity and a recognition that sin is not that others are evil but broken. A brokenness that breaks us, our relationships with God, and with others. What would happen if we were to see each other from the viewpoint of a loving perfect Father.

Hope – third asset – Hope.
Jesus said to the 70 messengers that were going ahead of him, “Whenever you enter a town, and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Luke 10: 8-9

New Testament and koine Greek expert, Stephen Hultgren has said
“It is unnecessary to enter the old debate of whether Jesus meant that the kingdom of God had actually come) or whether the kingdom of God was near but not yet here. It is possible that Jesus thought that both were true. God’s reign was there and actively coming into being, even if the kingdom might not come fully until the future.”
Stephen Hultgren

Kingdom of God is Near! Jesus was physically going to be in their midst soon. The message still resounds with us today. The Kingdom of God is Near! This is a now proclamation, the Kingdom is close by, it is present. It is a call to believe and live now in the Kingdom of God. We have not been forgotten, hope is alive.

We are the hands and feet, our lives are the avenue for God to reveal himself. We are the mannequins in the windows showing what it is to live a life trusting Jesus.

We live in a world out of control. Many of our major cities, and some smaller one experience a violent death daily, they are broken. We hear this and cast the blame on their lives and choices – in doing so we too are broken.
Closing
We have a beautiful visual of the call of Jesus to his disciples,
“Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
Mark 1:17

It is a beautiful visual of the call of Jesus to us,

‘Follow Me and I Will Make what you do be more than your ever imagined’.

Mother Theresa prayed,
Christ has no body on earth but ours; no hands but ours; no feet but ours.
Our eyes are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world.
Our feet are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
Our hands are the hands with which he is to bless others now.

Let us pray.

Music 3
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
CCLI Song # 1558110
Stuart Townend

Verse 1
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Verse
I will not boast in anything
No gifts no pow’r no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Close
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Community

  • Community
  • Dirty Hands Day – September 25, 9am to noon, bring gloves, tools, etc.
  • hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Studies resume in October (7 weeks) Surveys begin today. Link at GFNorman.com
  • Uncomfortable beginning September 19
  • Next Sunday – ‘Nevertheless’, Larry Stevens
  • Covid Update
  • Offering Basket at doors

Benediction
Well, it is that time again.
I happens ever week.
It is time to go.
Into the marketplace.
Into the public square.
Time to go and share peace.
To eat.

To care for the broken.

Time to remember that the Kingdom of God is near.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take God’s instruction to open the doors of our hearts and minds into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s go to show the world that the Kingdom of God is near, let’s go and bring peace along with us to share, let’s go speaking words of the Father, let’s go expressing gratitude for all we’ve been given, let’s go letting the world see the Incarnate Response of God. Let’s go!

Open Door Policy 08.29.21

Order
Sunday, August 29, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Calm Jazz

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:12)

  • Call to Worship

            Living Hope (Phil Wickham)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                                                Rick
  • Music 1                                              Abbie

                    Great is they Faithfulness     Thomas Chisholm | William Runyan

  • Story                                                Online-Sherri, In Person- Peyton
  • Music 2                                            Abbie

                    How Great Thou Art             Stuart Wesley Keene Hine

  • Message    ‘Open Door Policy’      Rick
  • Music 3                                            Abbie

                  Oh How I Love Jesus              Bob Singleton

  • Community                                     Rick
  • Benediction                                     Online-Sherri, In Person-Peyton
  • Sharing the Peace                           Rick

Closing Audio
Spotify – Calm Jazz


Voices & Words
Sunday, August 29, 2021

Prayer
God,
You are our hope.
You are our peace.
You are our source.
You are our rescue.
You are our life.
God,
May we seek you in the midst of uncertainty.
May we look for you in the depths of misery.
May we listen for you when we are deceived by lies.
May we hear you over the noise and false voices.
God,
You are patient even when we focus on evil.
You are empathetic when we are afraid to open our hearts.
You are understanding when our minds fail to discern truth.
You are love when we get caught up in hate.
God,
Let us see you as light so our lives will reflect light.
Let us see you as hope so our lives will reflect hope.
Let us see you as mercy so our lives will reflect mercy.
Let us see you as love so our lives will reflect love.
Amen.

Music 1
Great is Thy Faithfulness
CCLI Song # 18723
Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan

Verse 1
Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee

Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see

All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Verse 2
Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above

Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see

All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Verse 3
Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide

Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see

All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Our Story 
These past weeks we have been horrified watching women, men, children, even babies, risking their lives to get to the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

 Their choice to ‘Stay and Hide’, knowing they may spend the rest of your life being hunted, or ‘Go and Trust’ the unknown agendas and doubtful hospitality in distant lands.

At every destination, there were no guarantees, no assurances, no protections – always facing the same decision  – ‘Do I stay put here, or do I go out there?’ They know the risk, around every corner, at every destination.

They commit to their choice, they hold their breath and step out their front door, or they close their eyes and hide behind that door. Either way, the journey has begun.

The apostle Paul constantly faced this same dilemma, ‘Do I stay here or do I go there? Sometimes even his closest friends and allies were quick to disagree with his choice. Pushing him to stay behind the closed door. Paul began to have a clearer view of God after he met Jesus on the way to Damascus.

One thing is certain, a lot happened between destinations, while he was on his way. He should have had a shirt that said ‘I Am Not There Yet.’

The apostle stepped out the door of his life onto an unknown path. Sometimes to get to the next place he had to convince a ship captain to take him aboard, or to convince a crew to not jump off a sinking ship, he had to watch out for fanatics who were dedicated to killing him, and he had to discern the words of politicians who wanted to use him. And, he had to shake snakes off when they attached themself to him. With each arrival, there would be another departure. There would be risk, disappointment, joy, grief, but there was always hope. Hope even when it felt hopeless, cheer even when it was miserable.

Luke closes out the details of Paul’s journey with his arrival in Rome. There, Paul ‘was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.”

Three days after Paul’s arrival he called together the local Jewish leaders. He proclaimed his innocence, saying  “I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But then the Jewish leaders objected, so I had to appeal to the emperor. This is why I am speaking with you, our common hope of Israel.” 

The leaders replied, “This is the first we have heard of this. But we would like to hear from you what you think about this Christianity movement that is upsetting to so many.”

Many religious leaders continued to join Paul at his lodging. From morning until evening he told his story, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus usage the words of Moses and the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe.” There was a significant division among the Jewish religious leaders.’

However, those discussions reached a point where Paul recognized that it was fruitless to continue. He knew that those who had rejected the message of Jesus had hardened themself past the point of no return. So he put an end to this group gatherings, and instead, kept his door open to those in the group who believed, or were interested, and wanted to continue to learn.

As the large group left, Paul quoted the words of the prophet Isaiah, words familiar to all the religious leaders  “‘Go to this people and say, ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn — and I would heal them.’”

final words were even more shocking, “ Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Those were surely shocking words!

Paul stuck around Rome for 2 more years of house confinement along with his constant guard companion.

There he continued to have an ‘Open Door Policy” allowing entry to anyone who wanted to hear truth.

Music 2
How Great Thou Art
CCLI Song # 14181
Stuart Wesley Keene Hine

Verse 1
O Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made

I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy pow’r thru’out
The universe displayed

Chorus
Then sings my soul
My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

Then sings my soul
My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

Verse 2
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
And hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees

When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze

Verse 3
And when I think
That God His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die
I scarce can take it in

That on the cross
My burden gladly bearing
He bled and died
To take away my sin

Chorus
Then sings my soul
My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

Then sings my soul
My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

Verse 4
When Christ shall come
With shout of acclamation
And take me home
What joy shall fill my heart

Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim
My God how great Thou art

Message        ‘Open Door Policy’ 

The Roman Martyrology is a document used in the Catholic Church as documentation of the various matrys that have been recognized by the Church. This documentation is an interesting record of the many ‘nobodies’ who have been used by God to do something miraculous for other nobodies. While we do not have the same veneration of these individuals as the Catholic Church does, we cannot help but be intrigued by these persons who have opened their lives to God to do something extraordinary.

In that documentation, listed for July 25 (around the year 35 AD), is a man from Damascus named Ananias. Tradition says that Ananias was eventually martyred, however, it is the known events of Ananias like that catch our attention. Anaias was a respected member of his community, even though he was Christian in a majority Jewish community, his consideration for the Law was noticed by the Jews in that knew him. He was also very aware of the events outside of the community of Damascus. He surely was aware of persecution of Christians taking place in Jerusalem as many had escaped persecution and were now living as refugees in Damascus. Ananias also was well aware of the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus who was feared by Christians who knew of his efforts to eliminate Christianity and Christians.

It was assuredly a conundrum for Ananias when God said to him to open his door to this feared Saul of Tarsus.
Ananias responded to God, “Lord, I have heard from  many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” (Acts 9:13-14).

I cannot imagine the thoughts that must have been going through Ananias’ mind upon receiving this instruction. Being a committed follower of Christ while being respected by those who are suspicious, at best, of Christianity had been like walking on egg shells. Ananias had surely become an expert at being subtle without, at the same time, compromising his faith. He was fully dedicated to a full commitment of his faith, while also being fully dedicated to protecting his own life as well as the lives of his fellow believers.

And now, he was to open his door to this terrifying man, even worse he was to go find this man named Saul.

For Ananias, it all began with a call from God to open his door, to open it to risk, discomfort, the unknown, and to the scary. It is most familiar to us if we paint it in a more contemporary thinking, image that God was to call us to  permit those who disagree, those who believe differently, those who live different lives, those who face different hurdles, those who face struggles we cannot understand, those who may be offensive, those who may make us think, to enter the threshold of our lives. While the similarity of danger may be different the personal hesitation and discomfort is the same.

It is apples and oranges, love and hatred, acceptance and condemnation, arrogance and humility, hope and despair, it is different. It is not the what and who that we usually open our door for. It goes against the bias, prejudices, and teachings of our tradition, it is counter to the teachings of our respected leaders, it is sometimes a swim against the flow of our own community.

Ananias followed God’s command and was the human factor in the transformation of Saul the Terror to Paul the Apostle. Ananias explained and welcomed Saul who had just met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul the seeker of truth, on this day, was transformed into Saul/ Paul  the proclaimer of truth, and eyewitness to the life and resurrection of Jesus.  It was a renewal of his search, a renewal of his quest, it was a transformation…
”Renewal by the spirit is not modification but total transformation.” (Pastors Daniel Martino and Antonio Vargas)

For Saul, the transformation from religious zeal to personal passion, a desire not to stop something but to continue something, to move from hate and fear to proclamations of resurrection and hope was a work of the Spirit, accepted by a blind and confused zealot.

So Saul, who had achieved the position of Pharisee about 5 years earlier, now was an eye witness of the resurrected Messiah, he had opened his door to that which would destroy his position, his career achievement, but now was witness to the fulfillment of expectancy in the arrival of the deliverer. And, now, 14 years after crossing the threshold of the open door at the house of Ananias, Paul was in Rome.

It is while he is under house arrest in Rome that the shattered boundaries of his transformation begin to be fully evident. 3 years earlier he had written to the churches in Rome, and now he was there in the flesh, among them, encouraging, teaching, confronting, engaging, and enlightening them. It was in the pages of that letter that Paul expressed his disillusionment in the reality that Jesus had been rejected by most of his own people, his own friends, his own contemporaries, his own faith family – he came to a conclusion that this rejection was a mystery that he did not understand but also, it was a test of his own faith in a just and faithful God, a God who would not abandon his own people.

This all explains why, once in Rome, his door was first open to the Jewish leaders in Rome. Many, if not all, of these shared Paul’s conviction in regard to resurrection. Since this was a connection point for his own Jewish faith and his Christian faith this was the best place to begin. Interestingly, these leaders had not heard of the accusations against Paul in Jerusalem, they only knew that Paul was either hated or beloved. So, they listened, they asked questions, they agreed and they disagreed, at the end of the day they left, divided amongst themselves.

Finally, as the many that did not believe, continued in their unbelief, it became obvious to Paul that this group was stuck, they were glued to their past, to the teachings and observances that had been a part of their past, they could not make a change, they could not accept that this Jesus was the deliver they had been waiting for.
So Paul quoted the prophet Isaiah,  “You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this your heart has grown dull, and your ears are hard of hearing, and you have shut your eyes; so that you might not look with your eyes, and listen with your ears, and understand with your heart and turn to God for deliverance.’”

Then, as his contemporaries walked away, Paul added, “ Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

It was then that Paul adopted an ‘Open Door Policy’ a policy he had first witnessed in the acts of the ‘nobody’ Ananias. He began a practice of opening his door to all. He no longer focused on ‘a people’ or even ‘his people’ to tell his story, now his door was open to ‘all peoples’. His investment shifted from an institution to people of all kinds of institutions. He focused on other words of God from the prophet Isaiah, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

These 2 years in Rome under house arrest brought the apostle to an understanding that ‘Disagreement does not call for Division,” that ‘Differences does not call for Fear.’ This understanding led him to leave his door open, open to everyone and anyone. Those things that had previously been justifiable factors for exclusion now held no sway. Compassion, Mercy, Hope, and Love had replace those elements of condemnation.

When we open our doors we see

  • Our fears of those who believe differently diminishes into a respect for a seeker/believer.
  • Our fears of those of different background and cultures diminishes into an appreciation for the diversity of God’s created.
  • Our fear of the uncomfortable diminishes into an interest in all others.
  • Our fear of those who look or live differently than us diminishes into the unity God desires among his descendants.
  • Our fear of evil diminishes into an understand of what is good and lovely.
  • Our fear of letting go of false beliefs and strongholds diminishes in the relief found in the freedom of a fingers no longer grasping to keep a grasp on the nonsensical.
  • Our fear of letting go of Pride diminishes into Truth.

For centuries the church has focused on evangelism as the practice of converting others to our belief. But look at the nobody Ananias. Lived a respectable life, even in the eyes of those who disagreed and possibly despised him. He, unknowingly was an evangelist in his community, not because of his words but because of his life. Part of that was a relationship with God that listened to and for God, even when God spoke the uncomfortable words, ‘Open your door, Ananias.’ It was then that he spoke words that were already verified in his life, it was then that he, along with Paul, experienced transformation.

We each have the challenge and the responsibility to open the doors of our hearts and our minds. To look around and see who is missing that belongs amongst us. To see out, into the marketplace and public square of our world.

Who will we see there, for whom does God desire we open the door to? Will be those who you do not understand? Will it be those who have hurt you in the past? Will it be those that your religious and faith institutions  have warned you against? Will it be those you have hated, rejected, feared, and judged? Will it be those you have dismissed or ignored. Will it be those who have dismissed and ignored you?

The apostle Paul went from keeping his own door closed while kicking down the doors of those he hated, he went from keeping condemning an entire people to leading that very people, he want from looking for and rejecting the Messiah to accepting and proclaiming that Messiah. It went from a closed door on his heart and mind, to opening his own door to all who wanted to hear and see. It all began with a little nobody opening his door and led to this charismatic leader opening his door every where he went. Are the doors of your heart and mind open to God, are they open to those God sends your way?

Let us pray.

Music 3 
Oh How I Love Jesus
CCLI Song # 4596756
Bob Singleton

Verse 1
There is a name I love to hear
I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth

Chorus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Because He first loved me

Verse 2
It tells me of a Savior’s love
Who died to set me free
It tells me of His precious blood
The sinner’s perfect plea

Chorus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Because He first loved me

Because He first loved me

Community 

  • Community
  • Dirty Hands Day
  • hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Studies resume in October (survey before to see options and preferences)
  • Uncomfortable beginning September 19 – solicit uncomfortable passages/stories
  • Next Sunday – ‘Incarnate Response’, Mark 1:14-20 & Luke 10:1-11
  • Free Stuff in entryway
  • Covid Update
  • Offering Basket at doors

Benediction

It is time to open the doors and exit this place.

Time to open the doors to see.

It it time to open the doors to hear.

Time to step out and into the world of our journey

Time to walk with our fellow descendants.

Time to tell our story.

Our story of God’s love, hope, deliverance, and rescue.

It’s Time.

 It’s Time.

Closing Peace 

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take God’s instruction to open the doors of our hearts and minds into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s open our doors as fellow created humans, let’s open our doors to be the love of God in a world desiring love.

Let our open doors be evident in our actions and words. Let’s open our doors to experience God’s great grace, God’s great peace, God’s great love, and God’s great hope. Let’s go!

Your Party Invitation 08.22.21

Order

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify – Calm Jazz

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:12)

  • Call to Worship

Come to the Table  (Sidewalk Prophets, Glover, McDonald, Frey)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                       Rick
  • Music 1                     Abbie

        Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us     (Thrupp, William Bradbury)

  • Story                                               Online-Isaiah, In Person- Dona
  • Music 2

        Wherever He Leads I’ll Go              (B. B. McKinney)

  • Speaker Introduction – Kyle          Rick
  • Message    ‘Your Invitation’’           Kyle Tubbs
  • Music 3                    Abbie

        I Have Decided To Follow Jesus    (Thomas, Davis)

  • Community                                   Rick
  • Benediction                                  Online-Isaiah, In Person-Dona
  • Sharing the Peace                         Rick

Closing Audio
Spotify – Calm Jazz

Voices & Words

Prayer

God,
Thank you for your invitation to us to come to the table
Thank you for inviting us to participate in your feast
Thank you for your invitation to come to your table
God, we recognize that it is only at your table we will find healing
It is only at your table we will find hope
Is is only at your table we will find joy
It is only at your table we will find love
God, we recognize that your table was made by you
The craftsmanship is apparent, the stability is everlasting
The table was built with your sacrifice, love, and truth
The table is designed by your mercy and compassion
God, it is at your table that we are fully relieved of our burdens
Our baggage, our regret, our pain, our despair
It is at your table we receive hope and grace
God, thank you for our invitation to come to your table
May we pull out a seat for others to join us at your table.
Amen.

Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Verse 1
Saviour like a shepherd lead us
Much we need thy tender care
In thy pleasant pastures feed us
For our use thy folds prepare
Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Thou hast bought us thine we are
Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Thou hast bought us thine we are

Verse 2
Thou hast promised to receive us
Poor and sinful though we be
Thou hast mercy to relieve us
Grace to cleanse and pow’r to free

Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Early let us turn to thee
Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Early let us turn to thee

Verse 3
Early let us seek thy favour
Early let us do thy will
Blessed Lord and only Saviour
With thy love our beings fill

Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Thou hast loved us love us still
Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus
Thou hast loved us love us still

Our Story
Have you ever been invited to something that you didn’t really want to go to?
I hate that, you have to think of a credible excuse for declining and then you have to say it in a way that sounds genuine. You convincingly decline and then all you can think about is what you are going to eat instead.
You worry that maybe the food at the dinner party will be better than anything you can cook or get at a drive through.
To make matters worse, you obsess, wondering if you should go just to make an appearance and then leave if the food doesn’t look all that bad.
Or, if you should go peak in the windows to see if you like any of the people that are at the dinner party…and… if the food looks good.
What about being invited to a birthday party, or a funeral? There are so many issues you have to consider before deciding if you want to go!
Will it be boring? Will it be awkward? Will it last too long? Will someone talk who should never be allowed to talk in public? Will you have to bring a gift, or hug anyone? How long do you have to stay? Will you have to dress up?
We get it..
Will anyone good be there? Will anyone bad be there? Will anyone disgusting be there? Should you wear a mask? Do you do handshakes, knuckles, or elbows? Do you….
Yes, we get it Dona…. You know, Jesus was invited to the home of a fellow Pharisee where was a man with Dropsy, basically Edema, a frequent sign of congestive heart failure. The man probably had a very swollen and uncomfortable look, his coloring was probably odd, and no one really knew if he was contagious or not. FYI, social distancing probably did not have to be a mandate.
The religious leaders were intensely watching, they wanted to see if Jesus would reach out to the man, if he would heal the ailing man. It was the Sabbath and healing is work. Work was forbidden on this day of rest.
The man looked unclean, he assuredly solicited a response of disgusted dismissal – so, using a religious law would be an excuse to not go near him. Such callousness would be justified, it was an appropriate religious response. It would be more ‘holy’.
Jesus knew what the leaders were thinking and confronted their hypocrisy. As expected though, Jesus did engage with this untouchable man and he did heal him on the Sabbath.
After this nail biting moment, Jesus began talking about our self centered attitudes that are the primary factor in our own arrogance. Sadly, ultimately, they result in a self centered illusion that causes us to miss the miraculous work of God around us, work that even happens on Holy and Restful days.
As Jesus approached the Pharisee’s table he commented on choices of the guest in their choices of seats. It was a very applicable message about self centeredness and arrogance. One of the guests, then responded with the comment,  “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 
Oh, that had to be cringe worthy for everyone already seated.
Maybe, or, possibly, it was a welcome attempt to distract from their own seat choices.
Jesus calmly responded, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. When the dinner was ready to eat, the master sent his servant to say, ‘Come; dinner is ready.’” 
But the invitees made excuses. They said, ‘I have bought a piece of land which I must go see.’ Another said, ‘I need to try out my new oxen.’ Another said, ‘I am a newlywed, I’d rather just eat with my new spouse.’ So the servant returned and reported this to his master.
Let’s just say that the Master was not happy, “Go out immediately, go into the streets and all over the town, bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ The master instructed, the servant ran out with the new invitations and then returned to report to the master, ‘I’ve done what you ordered me to do, and there is still room at the table.’ 
The master sent the servant back out with more invitations, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. Let me tell you this,” the master said, “none of those who were originally invited will taste my dinner.’”
May we be grateful for an invitation to the table. May we express our gratitude for Truth, and for God, who is truth, though our willingness and determination to allow truth to transform our lives and to change how we see and live in God’s creation and amongst God’s created.
May we reflect the gift of God’s sacrifice through our lives and our engagements. May God’s compassion and mercy be seen in us. May truth be at our core as we are immersed in God’s grace, and may it be vividly witnessed just as it was seen in the person of Jesus and the work of his Spirit.

Wherever He Leads I’ll Go

Chorus
Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 1
Take up thy cross and follow Me
I heard my Master say
I gave My life to ransom thee
Surrender your all today

Chorus
Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 2
He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Chorus
Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 3
It may be through the shadows dim
Or o’er the stormy sea
I take my cross and follow Him
Wherever He leadeth me

Chorus
Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 4
My heart my life my all I bring
To Christ who loves me so
He is my Master Lord and King
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Speaker Introduction

Rev. Kyle Tubbs serves as the coordinator of CBF Oklahoma and as a  church starting consultant for CBF Global. Before coming to Oklahoma, Kyle led CBF’s nationwide church starting initiative in Decatur, Georgia. Prior to those ministries, he served as the founding pastor of Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas and on the staffs of Trinity Baptist Church in Sweetwater, Texas, and First Baptist Church of Eula, Texas.

Kyle earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a master of divinity degree from Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary. He is a candidate for the doctor of philosophy degree, focusing his dissertation on contextual leadership, from Dallas Baptist University. Kyle is also a trained and certified executive leadership coach.

Kyle and his wife, Kaily, live in Norman with their sons, Emmett and Henry, and dog, Kennedy. They enjoy playing and laughing together as a family at public parks and recreation centers.

Message        ‘Your Party Invitation’ 

• Story: I was a youth minister running a VBS type program during a mission trip. Energy and involvement was low so we threw a party. The joy and energy reminded us that the Kingdom of God is like a party where all are welcome.
• Today, I want us to think about the Kingdom of God. Who gets an invite to be part of it?
• In context, we meet Jesus in the house of a Pharisee, but it was a trap. Remember that Jesus did not just
identify himself with one group, but with anyone who invited him.

Luke 14:15-24
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore  I cannot come.’

So the servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’

Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

• Think from the Jesus’ perspective for a moment. Have you ever been somewhere where you know that someone doesn’t like you?
• One of the guys tries to break the awkward silence. He says, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God.”
• The Pharisees at thought that they would be the ones in the Kingdom, and did not think about others getting an invitation too.
• Jesus retorts by telling a story about a great dinner.
• Invitations go out, and the responses are questionable. They are excuses.
• The first comes from one who says they need to check out some land I just bought. Wouldn’t you look at land before buying it?
• The second says they need check out some oxen. Who would buy these things before seeing them first?
• The third gives an excuse about just being married, but shouldn’t they be with their spouse?
• These excuses all have in common that they are too busy to go to the party
• When the servant returns to tell the host that the invitations had been rejected, the host then tells him to go back out.
• This time when the servant comes back, the invitations have seen…ACCEPTED. And the servant tell the host that there is still room.
• The host is thrilled and says go back out into the roads and invite everybody.

  • Every person in this story has a chance to come to the party, but it is up to both the wealthy and poor, healthy and sick to accept or decline the invitation. The invitation is for EVERYB

• The host is able to feed and take care of everybody.
• The invitation is based solely on the loving graciousness of the host.
• Jesus shows us that everyone is given the opportunity to be at the party! The invitation is directly from God to you. You are invited!

  • In the kingdom there are roads and bridges to a party, and everyone is welcome and invited.
  • • In the kingdom of God, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control permeate throughout.

• In the kingdom of God, God loves you because God is good.
• In the kingdom of God, shame is replaced with acceptance.
• In the kingdom of God, who is your neighbor? Everyone!
• But…if everyone is invited to this kingdom, does everyone know they are invited?
• Who are the folks today who need to know they have an invitation to the party?
• Who are folks that may not be thought of first but need to experience the joyous love of God?
• In God’s kingdom, everyone is welcome. You are welcome. The invitation is for you. The invitation is also for everyone else too.
• In God’s kingdom, grace means that God never runs out of what we need.
• The miracles show us that God provides.
• Wine is almost out? More wine!
• Food is almost out? More food!
• And in faith we can rest knowing that God will provide all the grace we need!
• You are welcome into the presence of Christ through the ever expanding Kingdom of God.
• How can we celebrate the kingdom of God together? We come together in humility, service, and love.
We look like Christ.
• Let’s think about the disciples for just a minute. They were extremely diverse. Their education,
backgrounds, ethnicities, and vocations varied.
• You don’t have to worry about being in or out. Whether you check off the right boxes, or if you are in
the right category to be a child of God.
• Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
• The beautiful good news from our Gospel story today is a reminder that you are invited to the party, the
Kingdom of God.
• This story also encourages us to think about those not in this room.
• Who needs an invitation to the Kingdom of God?
• Who needs to hear that they are also invited to rest in the grace of God?
• What will it take for you to accept the invitation to the party?
• Who do you need to invite to the party?
• Benediction: May you hear the invitation loud and clear this morning. You are invited. The Kingdom of God is within you and waiting for you all around. You just have to say yes. And may you invite others to join you in the love of God this week. Amen.

I Have Decided

Verse 1
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back no turning back

Verse 2
The world behind me the cross before me
The world behind me the cross before me
The world behind me the cross before me
No turning back no turning back

Verse 3
Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
No turning back no turning back

Ending
No turning back
No turning back
No turning back
No turning back

Community

  • Community
  • Dirty Hands Day
  • hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Studies resume in October (survey before to see options and preferences)
  • Uncomfortable beginning September 19 – solicit uncomfortable passages/stories
  • Next Sunday – Open Door, Acts 28: 16-31
  • Summer Breeze
  • Free Stuff in entryway
  • Covid Update
  • Offering Details

Benediction

Dona: Once again, it is time to go.

Isaiah: Time to go into the marketplace, time to go onto the public square.

Dona: Time to look for the invitations from God, time to share the invitations in the marketplace and the public square.

Isaiah: Time to listen to the plans of God.

Dona: It is time to go amongst all who are created and loved by God.

Isaiah: In other words, it is time to recognize that all of those in the marketplace and the public square are endearingly noticed by their creator, by our God – they are all invited to the feast.

Dona: It is time to go.

Isaiah: Time to lay down our own selfishness and instead see God’s sacrifice.

Dona: It is time to go.

Isaiah: It is time to respond with God’s grace

Dona: With God’s peace

Isaiah: With God’s joy

Dona: With God’s love

Isaiah: With God’s hope

Dona: It is time.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take God’s invitation into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s take our that invitation not as enemies of others, but as fellow created humans to which we have the opportunity to be the avenue of delivery of those invitations.

Let us go letting that invitation be visible in our life actions and words. Let’s show that invitation to God’s great grace, God’s great peace, God’s great love, and God’s great hope. Let’s go deliver those invitations!

Soggy Bread 08.15.21

Order

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:48)

  • Call to Worship

           None Like You  (Dante Bowe)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                                           Rick
  • Music 1                                         Abbie

          Love Lifted Me

  • Story                                            Online-Randy/In Person-Beth
  • Music 2

          My Jesus I Love Thee

  • Message    ‘Soggy Bread’           Rick
  • Music 3/Lord’s Supper              Abbie

          Jesus Paid It All

  • Community                                Rick
  • Benediction                                Online-Randy/In Person-Beth
  • Closing Peace                             Rick

Closing Audio

Voices & Words

Prayer

God,

We thank you for our story
The good and the bad
The hopeful and the hopeless
The healing and the pain
The blindness and the sight
God, it is in our story that we remember the story of you
The story of your faithfulness
The story of your mercy
The story of your compassion
The story of your sacrifice
The story of your redemption
The story of your love
The story of you as love
Lead us to remember that story
Our story, your story…
As we navigate pain, struggle, despair, and hopelessness
As we are reminded of you, our God,

Amen.

Music 1
Love Lifted Me
CCLI Song # 66926
Howard E. Smith | James Rowe

Verse 1
I was sinking deep in sin
Far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within
Sinking to rise no more
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry
From the waters lifted me
Now safe am I

Chorus
Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me
(REPEAT)

Verse 2
All my heart to Him I give
Ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessed presence live
Ever His praises sing
Love so mighty and so true
Merits my soul’s best songs
Faithful loving service too
To Him belongs

Chorus
Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me
(REPEAT)

Verse 3
Souls in danger look above
Jesus completely saves
He will lift you by His love
Out of the angry waves
He’s the Master of the sea
Billows His will obey
He your Savior wants to be
Be saved today

Chorus
Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me
(REPEAT)

Our Story
After spending over two years sitting in a guarded jail cell in Ceasarea, during which time he had told his story to 2 governors, a King and a Queen, Paul, finally, was on his way to Rome.

A huge part of Paul’s story was that he was a Roman citizen by birth which meant he had more rights and more protections than most of his contemporaries. His fate was not left to politicians or religious leaders who wanted him gone, or saw a way to use and abuse him to their own advantage. Paul had requested an opportunity to appear before the emperor, that was a benefit of Roman citizenship.

The trip to Rome by boat was over 2,200 miles. A trip by boat and land would have been bit more efficient but since this journey involved a Roman Centurion managing a group of prisoners, including Paul, it was better to go by boat. Normally, if all conditions were right, this trip would take 2 week to a month, but this was not an ordinary trip nor were the conditions right, they weren’t anywhere near right.

It was a lot like Gilligan’s Island, only instead of a Mary Ann, a movie star, and Mr. and Mrs. Howell, it was a much burlier and more obstinate captain, a crew that were not bumbling loveable fools, but instead, very unloveable, burlier and even more smellier crew, plus an array of shady prisoners along with the prisoner Paul. Basically 276 smelly, burly, bad mood, men crammed onto a small boat out on the rough and unforgiving sea.

Well, that sounds pleasant.

That’s what I was thinking as well.

On this elongated trip, Paul and the others fought the winds, they fought the waves, they barely kept the boat together, then they lost the boat all together. They ended up in a boat with the figured heads, the carved wooden figures on the front of the boat, depicted the twin sons of the mythical gods Zeus and the Spartan Queen Leda

They stopped in at least 12 ports, in most he was permitted to spend time with the Christians there, which was about the same number of stops as his farewell journey from Corinth to Jerusalem.

Along the way he was shipwrecked, spent 14 days on an island where he healed and had more opportunities to share his story. He had to convince an entire community that he was not a god, and continually tried to convince the  captain that he (Paul) knew better how to navigate the boat because God had told him.

It was a trip where he continuously looked back to remember the faithfulness of God, and, at the same time, a trip where he was constantly given the opportunity to share his story with others – all kinds of others.

It was a miserable, yet essential, part of his path. Just like the miserable yet essential parts of our paths.

Music 2
My Jesus I Love Thee (4 slides)
CCLI Song # 27817
Adoniram Judson Gordon | William Ralph Featherstone

Verse 1
My Jesus I love Thee I know Thou art mine
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign
My gracious Redeemer my Savior art Thou
If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now

Verse 2
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow
If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now

Verse 3
I’ll love Thee in life I will love Thee in death
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow
If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now

Verse 4
In mansions of glory and endless delight
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow
If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now

Message        ‘Soggy Bread’
An emaciated chained young man stands at the entrance of the La MACA (E marse e all), a brutal inmate run prison on the Ivory Coast.  He is so defenseless he surely will not survive as much as 3 days in the prison. However, he is given a chance, he is to tell a story; The prisoners gather with the hope of entertainment or at least an act of brutality. As the terrified young man stands he is informed that his story must not only entertain but it must also not end until the sun rises if he fails we will die. This is the premise of the movie ‘Night of the Kings, which entertainment writer Karen Han describes as a, “Tribute to the power of stories…celebrating oral traditions and the rituals we create for ourselves in order to make life just a little more bearable. [The storyteller’s] skills underline the potential of a good story to not only inspire more art, but to create hope as well.”

Writer Ed Chinn says,
“A story is a like a seed. It carries a power which is mysterious, potent and continuing. When it falls into the ground of a human mind, it takes on a life of its own…

When it comes to stories, we have the choice to become either a producer or a curator. Producers clean the story up, polish it and shape it into something which will satisfy a market or a need, they turn it into a product. They extract or emphasize what will serve their purpose.

On the other hand, curators have a much greater depth of respect for the story and knowledge of its true value. They know the story is not a product. They also know that we have a responsibility to the story!

Curators want to preserve it exactly as they found it.  And, they care about its safety and survival. So, for them, the challenge is to just find the right setting to display it. They are focused on passing it on intact to future generations.”

Telling the story, his own story, is the work of the apostle Paul, especially as we have traveled with him from Corinth to Jerusalem, and all the cities in between, and now, from Caesarea to Rome, and all the places between. In a time when experts speculate that the literacy rate was anywhere from 1% to 20% of the entire population, storytelling was not only powerful but story tellers were vital. The apostles life was all about telling the story, his story, a story of truth, a story as eyewitness. It was a story that told of his own experiences seeking God and his path defining experience with Jesus. For Paul, telling his story was either a natural instinct or, it could be that Paul was a master as seeing ways of telling his story in any and all situations. He told his story to his fellow Jews, to the despised Gentiles, to Religious Leaders, to Governors, to Kings and Queens, and now, as we near the end of Lukes details of Paul’s journey in the book of Acts, we see Paul heading to Rome to tell his story to the emperor Caesar.  Even at every turn of the physical journey to Rome gave Paul an opportunity to tell his story of truth and transformation, a story of his path given by God.

The call to not only tell his story, but also to show Jesus through his own actions and life, in addition to the realities of reality, caused Paul’s journey from Caesarea to Rome to be much longer and miserable than it needed to be. On the other hand, this journey was unto itself another part of Paul’s story that stood as a testament to God’s faithfulness, mercy, and compassion. Plus it paints a picture of how story brings us to a remembrance of God and a strength in that recollection.
Journey to Rome
During one pivotal moment on the journey to Rome, the author of the book of Acts, Luke (who was on this part of the journey with Paul), describes the situation from a first hand point of view.

“the weather changed abruptly, and a heavy wind of typhoon strength caught the ship and blew it out to sea. The crew tried at first to face back to shore but couldn’t, so they gave up and let the ship run before the gale. We finally sailed behind a small island named Clauda,  where with great difficulty we hoisted aboard the lifeboat that was being towed behind us, and then  banded the ship with ropes to strengthen the hull.

The sailors were afraid of being driven across to the quicksands of the African coast, so they lowered the topsails and were thus driven before the wind. The next day as the seas grew higher, the crew began throwing  the cargo overboard. 

The following day they threw out the tackle and anything else they could lay their hands on. The terrible storm raged unabated many days, until at last all hope was gone.

No one had eaten for a long time, but finally Paul called the crew together and said, ‘Men, cheer up! Not one of us will lose our lives, even though the ship will go down.’”
Acts 27:14-22 (TLB)

Here it is again, Thar-Say, the greek word that God said to Paul in Paul’s moment of deepest despair, only now it is human form, yoo-thoo-meh’-o. Paul is beginning to tell the 266 men on the boat to cheer up, to take courage. While, Thar-Say, is not a human word – impossible for a human to credibly say, Paul is using the human form, yoo-thoo-meh’-o, he cannot internally do the work of leading them to the place where they can legitimately ‘cheer up’, however, Paul does have human power of story, his story can ‘Cheer Up’ 

“last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul—for you will surely stand trial before Caesar!
What’s more, God has granted your request and will  save the lives of all those sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God! It will be just as he said! But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”
Acts 27:23-26 (TLB)

Author N. Scott Momady says, “A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.”

Many native American Storytellers have taken a scientific trek to explain the power of story telling by focusing on two elements, Oxytocin and Cortisol. Oxytocin, a hormone released from the brain during and after birthing a child, is credited as en essential element of the bonding process between mother and child. Cortisol is a steroid hormone your body releases when you are stressed. These Native American storytellers attribute these two natural elements of our created natural physical processes as taking place in the minds of the listeners as well told stories are taking place. As a believer, I have no difficulty saying this may be God’s built in process of the Spirit bringing us to a place of hope. It could very well be a key part of the ‘Cheer Up’ process.

Maybe this work of the Spirit triggered these elements, God gifted to these men way back at creation, in the brains of the burly, smelly, men on the ship as Paul told this story. Maybe this is what was at work to prepare all 276 men for 11 days later when everything got worse, much worse.

‘At midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven to and fro on the Adriatic Sea,.  As the darkness gave way to the early morning light, Paul begged everyone to eat. “You haven’t touched food for two weeks. Please eat something now for your own good!  Otherwise, you shall perish!”  Then he took some bread and gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. Suddenly everyone felt better and began eating, all 276 of us that were on aboard.’
Acts 27:27-37 (TLB)
Ill: Isaiah Fainting Scare

Words of truth, seeds of hope, soggy bread, remembrance,

Hopelessness to happiness, doom to survival,

A story told over time, a truth instilled for the moments of despair, all pouring out in remembrance,

Remembrance of our faithful God, merciful, and compassionate.

Inspiration, even to those unacquainted with this God.

This brings us back to another moment of soggy bread. This bread was not soaked by the spray of threatening waves, but soaked in tears and blood. A bread passed by Jesus to his disciples one last time before the arrest and the cross. A cup, also shared, filled with a simple wine, but nourishing a seed in the men sitting at the table that would later provide an epiphany as they watch the blood flow as nails pierced Jesus hands and feet. A call to remember, to remember the story they had witnessed thought their lives, throughout their journey following Jesus. A story of their God who became man to be broken and pierced for them. A story to bring them to cheer, to courage, to hope, to life.

Let us remember, as we too remember through the bread and the juice. May we too take this moment to be reminded of the God who has not forgotten us, the God who is our strength, the God who is our courage, the God who is our Cheer.

Tell Yourself Your Story.
[Lord’s Supper]

Music 3
Song/Lord’s Supper
Jesus Paid It All
CCLI Song # 22331
Elvina Mabel Hall | John Thomas Grape

Verse 1
I hear the Saviour say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness watch and pray
Find in Me thine all in all

Chorus
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Verse 2
Lord now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

Chorus
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Verse 4
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat

Chorus
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
(REPEAT)

Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Community

  • Next Sunday – Kyle Tubbs
  • Dirty Hands Day
  • Hin·nê·nî – Bible Studies resume in October (survey before to see options and preferences)
  • Uncomfortable beginning September 19 – solicit uncomfortable passages/stories
  • Covid Update

Benediction

After 2 years in a prison cell, a cell that allowed him to share his story with governors, Kings, and Queens, it was time for Paul to go. Time to leave his homeland, his people, his past, and head to Rome.

It was time for Paul to reach an unreachable audience. There would be more time of confinement, additional moments of isolation and rejection. In all of it, this would also be the time for more living proof of the existence and faithfulness of God.

It was time to continue to strengthen his own faith as he continued to remembered how God’s power and dependability even when Paul was weak and hopeless.

In the same way it is time for us to go.

Time to go into the marketplace, to the city square, among God’s dependents and his children. It is time.

Time to go looking back to see God’s faithfulness.

Looking ahead to see God’s presence.

It is time to go and time to grow.

Sure, sometimes we will eat soggy bread.

Sometimes our grain will be thrown overboard.

But, nevertheless, it is time.

Closing Peace
May our story of God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s take our story into the marketplace and the public square. Let’s take our story not as enemies of others, but as fellow created humans to which we have the opportunity to be light shining in the darkness. Let us go telling our stories through our life actions and words. Let’s go held by the embrace of grace, the comfort of peace, the grounding of joy, the proof of love, and confidence of hope. Let’s go!

Order, Words, & Voices 08.08.21

Order

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:16)

  • Call to Worship 

I Choose to Worship  (Rend Collective)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer
  • Music

Wherever He Leads I’ll Go (B. B. McKinney)

  • Story  (No Slides except title)
  • Music

You’re Worthy Of My Praise (David Ruis)

Message ‘Appointed to Tell’  

  • Music

All The Way My Savior Leads Me (Fanny Jane Crosby | Robert Lowry)

#2 TWO Video Community (1:45)

  • Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

Community

Live

  • Benediction        
  • Sharing the Peace      

Closing Audio

Words & Voices

#1 ONE Video #1

Song – I Choose To Worship (Rend Collective)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer

God, 

Today we thank you for the story you have given us.

A story that explains how you have guided and protected.

A story that describes the manner in which you use even our poor judgements to move us on our path.

A story that reveals your victory even in the darkness of evil.

A story that reminds us of your faithfulness.

A story that points our trust towards you.

God, may be see your story of our life when we look back.

May we trust you as the author of our story even when we cannot see.

May we know you hold our story even before it takes place.

God, thank you for the life, thank you for the story, you give to us all.

Amen.

Music 1

Wherever He Leads I’ll Go (after prayer) (8 slides)

CCLI Song # 25194

B. B. McKinney

Verse 1

Take up thy cross and follow Me
I heard my Master say
I gave My life to ransom thee
Surrender your all today

Chorus

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 2

He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Chorus

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 3

It may be through the shadows dim
Or o’er the stormy sea
I take my cross and follow Him
Wherever He leadeth me

Chorus

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Verse 4

My heart my life my all I bring
To Christ who loves me so
He is my Master Lord and King
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Chorus

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Our Story

Paul continues to be held prisoner by governor Festus, who heard the accusations by the Tertullius and the defense by the apostle. Festus has been backed into a corner and clueless about what to do. The accusations are not really valid and Paul’s defense was very valid. He would love to rid himself of this ‘Paul’ problem but punishing Paul would violate his authority, releasing Paul would enrage the High Priest.

On top of all of that, Paul has now requested to be sent to Rome, he has requested that his case be heard before the emperor. You don’t want to send someone, or something, to the emperor that is petty and a waste of the powerful ruler’s time. It was never good to waste a powerful person’s time.

Festus asks a contemporary, King Agrippa, to help him figure out the exactly what the charges against Paul are. They need to be valid but also worthy of the Emporer’s time and attention.

King Agrippa wanted to hear Paul’s story from Paul himself before he made a recommendation to Festus.  Paul’s first words, when he began to speak before the King, were in the form of a question. “Why to you, and my fellow Jews, think that it is so outrageous that I believe God raises from the dead?”

The King surely thought this was a rhetorical question, which is probably why he did not answer.

Kristen Y: Or, he did not respond because he did not know the answer.

That is true.

Then Paul proceeded to introduce himself to Agrippa, especially focusing on his own passion and dedication in his role as a Pharisee. He told of his own faithfulness, a fact that could not be denied by the High Priest.

Next, Paul told of his story about his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, “I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Why are you persecuting me?’ I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Now, get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

That’s not all, then Paul said, “After that I was not disobedient,  I declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance. To this day I have said nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

Then the governor proclaimed that Paul was out of his mind.

And Paul said that he was not out of his mind.

And the King asked if Paul was trying to convince him to become a Christian.

Kristen Y: And, finally the King told Festus that there was nothing he could charge Paul with, there was no crime that had been committed.

The King said to Festus, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment. He could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.”

So Paul would soon set sail for an interesting trip to Rome.

Another opened door which God placed on Paul’s path.

Music 2

You’re Worthy Of My Praise (5 Slides)

CCLI Song # 487976

David Ruis

Verse 1

I will worship (I will worship)
With all of my heart (with all of my heart)
I will praise You (I will praise You)
With all of my strength (all my strength)

I will seek You (I will seek You)
All of my days (all of my days)
I will follow (I will follow)
All of Your ways (all Your ways)

Chorus

I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise

Verse 2

I will bow down (I will bow down)
And hail You as King (and hail You as King)
I will serve You (I will serve You)
Give You everything (everything)

I will lift up (I will lift up)
My eyes to Your throne (my eyes to Your throne)
I will trust You (I will trust You)
Trust You alone (You alone)

Message ‘Appointed to Tell’

The past couple of weeks we have had two, very different and unique stories. The first is one that should outrage all of us. A prominent governor. I the United States had a 165 page document released that details investigated accusations actions of sexual harassment and abuse. He is already following the standard line of denial, slander, & justification. I am sure he will soon use the latest defense, one that is fairly new but pretty successful, that is to convince the American public that what he did is really not that bad. He will attempt to rewrite his story, while erasing the story of the abused. He will attempt to remain untouchable and clean. 

The other story has been about a U.S. gymnast who has been hearalded the Gymnast of all Time, and expectations on her were high for this olympic games. Leading up to the games the pressure mounted, the emotional and mental stress built up, and she realized that she had to take a step back. She had to step away from the applause and medals to, instead, be honest, to be real, to be vulnerable. For her, this was part of her story that she was not going to cover up or ignore. She refused to edit her story in order to keep her reputation and image of success.

Rewrite your story or Embrace your story. Attempt to Erase the negative or  Accept that is just another essential element of your story. To be vulnerable.

Brene Brown, author of several books including ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, and also known for her top 10 TED talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability,’  speaking about herself says, 

“My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. Learning how to be vulnerable has been a street fight for me, but it’s been worth it…When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity…”

Brene Brown

Schawbel, Dan. “Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better.” Forbes, April 21, 2013, https://www.forbes.com › danschawbel › 2013/04/21. 

Perfectionism is the enemy of Vulnerability, the two fight against each other. When Perfectionism wins we carry the baggage of having to be perfect, or at least to become master of editing our imperfections out of our story. When Vulnerabily wins, our story becomes our proof, we can see what God has done, how he has forgiven, the faithfulness of his trustworthiness, and his constant love. 

This was what Paul recognized as he sat the in prison cell the week between God’s instruction to ‘Cheer Up,’ and his moment before the then governor Felix when Paul himself proclaimed, ‘I Cheerfully give my defense.” Paul recognized as he looked back at God through out his story he recognized that it wasn’t about his successes, it was all about God’s hand all along the way.

King Saul. I have an odd affinity for the story of King Saul. Annointed King for a people who had never been King, a people who’s God did not want them to have a King. He was a man who fit the ideal of the Israelites for the King, good looking, tall and great stature, everything that would look good on a coin. He was also a very humble man. When it came time for him to be presented to the people, he was found hiding. Once in office he didn’t even quit his day job, demand fancy housing, or even an office with a desk. On top of this God, which is why this is such an interesting story, God, who chose this perfect person, also gave him the mind, emotions, skills, everything he needed to be a great and awesome first King. In the beginning he carried his own willingness to be vulnerable with him, soon, however, he succumbed to the temptation of perfection, he watched the polls and wanted the people to love and worship him. Soon, instead of being willing to be vulnerable before the people and God, he became paranoid, vengeful, and had a multitude of story edits to keep himself ‘perfect and without flaw.”

So, as Paul now stands before the new governor, Festus, along with King Agrippa and the Queen Bernice, he stands as a man telling his story in a surprisingly vulnerable way – because vulnerability was at the very core of his story.

Possibly because he knows that Agrippa and Bernice have Jewish blood in them, or he just knew that his story, in this moment, had to be real in order to be heard, , he vulnerably said, 

 “So I thought that I had to act in strong opposition to the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. In Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, by the power given to me by the chief priests, but I also voted for them to be put to death. And as I punished them, often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was extremely enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.

Acts 26:9-11

Paul, as a part of his story, a part that he did not edit out, detailed his own mistakes and horrible failures. 

  1. He admits that he allowed his position and power to take over. This was unheard of for a person of his reputation and intellect,  nevertheless, it was true.
  2. He shamefully admits that he permitted himself to become possessed with this agenda of wiping out and punishing Christians. He allowed himself to be overtaken by this obsession, he failed to stop and permit truth to rule.

And then, his story continues, detailing his obsession that led him to travel to Damascus in order to weed out the followers of Jesus. It was on that road that Paul met Jesus. It was on that road he returned to the vulnerability of a seeker of truth. This vulnerability was not a choice, it was a gift given to him by God. It was a course correction for his story.

‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Jesus said to Paul. “Get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to  those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Acts 26:15b-18 (NRSV)

Notice Paul was not asked to follow Jesus, he was not led to say a certain prayer, instead, Paul was given his purpose. He was appointed to tell his story. The story of his life in all the vulnerable glory. Admitting to his failures so he could grow from them, move on because of them.

Next we hear the place of Jesus in the Story of Paul. To rescue Paul from his own people as well as the gentiles – rejection will be a part of his story as he tells his story, vulnerability will be a constant element of his story.  

His story will be his avenue of sharing light to those still in the darkness.  His unedited, un-enhanced, unperfected, his will be the un-story. A story of truth, even when the truth is messy. A story of glory even when the glory is uncomfortable. A story of sacrifice of pride, self promotion, unholy agendas, a story of comfort. A story that demands vulnerability.

In the history of Christianity, especially evangelistic Christianity, we hold firmly to the internal and external act of repentance. For some, this turns into an obsession – leading us, in our relationships with others, to forget the greatest commandment to love. That firm grip often becomes our primary focus, which leads us to become judgemental, condemning, and hateful – subtly, that leads us to reject others that do not meet our standard of perfection. A false standard that even we often have problems meeting. It is time in Christianity that we meet Jesus on our road to Damascus. It is our moment to realize that repentance, that turning to God, is actually much deeper than the mere decision to quit doing or even thinking something.  Repentance is about Vulnerability, turning from our thoughts of perfection, or a perfect presentation. Vulnerabily allows to see Jesus honestly, it leads us to move our focus from editing and rewriting our story to letting Jesus come into our story, inviting Jesus to become the core of our story. 

Paul’s story involves blindness, physical blindness. It was the only way he could then see. It was the only way he could cease deepening on what he could see. His vulnerability in that moment allowed him to hear Jesus’ calling on Paul  – that he was ‘Appointed to tell His story.’

What injection of blindness does your story need for you to, once again, see Jesus?

Let’s Pray

Music 3

All The Way My Saviour Leads Me (after Message) (7 Slides)

CCLI Song # 85093

Fanny Jane Crosby | Robert Lowry

Verse 1

All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside
Can I doubt His tender mercy
Who through life has been my Guide

Heav’nly peace divinest comfort
Here by faith in Him to dwell

For I know whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well
For I know whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well

Verse 2 

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above


When my spirit clothed immortal
Wings its flight to realms of day


This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way 

Chorus

Wherever You lead I’ll go
Wherever You lead I’ll go
I’ll follow you Christ who love me so
Wherever You lead I’ll go

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Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

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Benediction

It was time again for the apostle Paul to go.

It is time again for us to go.

Time to go to Rome, time to go to the emperor, time to tell his tale, time to tell of the encounter on his path.

Time for us to go, time for us to go on our path, to look for those moments, those times of seeing God.

As always, Paul will go alone but he will not be separated, he will travel away but he will never be isolated.

We may also leave yet stay together, we will leave this place but not this people.

We leave with Peace.

We leave with Joy.

We take different paths.

We always go together.

It is time to go.

Closing Peace

May the grace, peace, joy, love, and hope of the Father go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s go into the marketplace among all the other loved descendants of God. Let’s go as loved children of God in the midst of the public square. Let’s go, not amongst enemies with whom we battle, but in the midst of our created brothers and sisters as light that shines in the darkness. Let’s go held by the embrace of grace, the comfort of peace, the grounding of joy, the proof of love, and confidence of hope. Let’s go!

Closing Audio

Order, Words, & Voices 08.01.21

Order

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

Spotify – Calm Jazz

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:15)

  • Call to Worship 

It’s Time To Worship (Chris McClarney | Mitch Wong | Jessie Early)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer Rick
  • Music Abbie

He Walks With Me Daniel Towner | John Henry Sammis

  • Story  (No Slides except title) Peyton & Cricklins
  • Music

He Lives Alfred Henry Ackley

  • Message ‘Paths and Protocols’   Rick
  • Music

Thy Word Michael W Smith | Amy Grant

#2 TWO Video Community (1:49)

  • Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

Community:

Live

  • Benediction         Peyton & Cricklins
  • Sharing the Peace       Rick

Closing Audio

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Voices & Words

#1 ONE Video #1

Song – It’s Time To Worship (Chris McClarney | Mitch Wong | Jessie Early)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer

God, 

We were created by you for your purposes.

Remind us of that truth as we slip back into our own selfish purposes.

As we interpret the events of life in regard to ourselves instead of to you.

Lord, confront us when we interpret you in light of our agenda and plans. 

Confront us when we interject our selfishness into your grace.

May we cheerfully walk in your joy as we lay aside self and instead defer to your path for us.

God, may you remind us of the compassion, mercy, and love, you breathed into us at our creation.

Amen.

Music

When We Walk With The Lord (Trust And Obey)

CCLI Song # 22094

Daniel Brink Towner | John Henry Sammis

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Not a shadow can rise
Not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt nor a fear
Not a sigh nor a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do
Where He sends we will go
Never fear only trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Our Story

The apostle Paul was rescued from a small group of hostile Jews, Paul considered all Jews to be his people. A small extremist group of Jews was resolute on stopping Paul from continuing on God’s path from telling his story. His rescue placed him in a jail cell where God told him to ‘Cheer Up.’ 

I think if I was sitting in a jail cell after being attacked by my own people and then someone told me to ‘Cheer Up’ I would be tempted to slap them.

But this was God, God can say that.

True.

In fact, if God says ‘Cheer Up’ there must be something more to those simple words than we think.

It almost seems like God is telling Paul to pretend, to do something that is not true. Paul had to be depressed and despondent, how could he then pretend to be cheerful?

Oddly, only 7 days after God gave the ‘Be Cheerful’ talk, Paul says that he actually is cheerful.

Paul said this after he had heard the accusations the lawyer Tertullus presented to the governor Felix. This was on behalf of the High Priest and a small group of Jewish leaders, Tertullus accused Paul of trying to stir up a rebellion, of being part of an illegal religious sect, and of defiling the temple.

It just takes a small group to make false accusations for unfounded conspiracies to become viral, to defame the Holy, and to destroy something good for others. Those small groups are on the fringes of all groups, including religious groups, including Christians.

Yes, so while many Jews were interested in what Paul was saying and teaching, this small group sought to keep everyone from the choice of listening to Paul. The objections were not from all Jews but an extreme fringe element of Jews that had forgotten the basic elements of their faith – like, do not murder and to love. Of course, the real danger with these extreme groups, is when others listen to them without evaluation or investigation. Like the crowds ultimate response to Jesus during Holy Week.

Paul’s journey was not to end in Jerusalem, or Caesarea. Paul’s path continued on to Rome. After all, his mission was to speak to the Gentiles. Rome was the perfect place for such a mission.

It kind of all began while Paul was jailed in Ceasarea, it was there that he had his first official speaking opportunity before a Roman official, the brutal Gentile, former slave, and determined Antisemite governor named Felix.

Paul opened with the words, “I cheerfully make my defense.”

That was a great way to start. I bet that got the attention of everyone in the room.

Then Paul began his defense. “You can quickly discover that it was no more than twelve days ago that I arrived in Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, and you will discover that I have never incited a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of any city; and my accusers certainly cannot prove the things they say I did.

Pretty bold so far.

He not only sounds Cheery, Courageous, and Comfortable, he sounds very Confident.

The he added, “But one thing I do confess is that I believe in the way of salvation, which they refer to as a sect; I follow that system of serving the God of our ancestors; I firmly believe in the Jewish law and everything written in the books of prophecy; and I believe, just as these men do, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and ungodly.”

That may have been a little contentious.

I’m sure, if there were any Sadducees in the group, they had sour looks on their faces.

Paul closed with these words, “I try with all my strength to always maintain a clear conscience before God and man. I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid the Jews during the famine and to offer a sacrifice to God. I had gone through the required process of purification. Basically, their complaint against me is that I believe that the dead will rise again!’”

I would have loved to be in that room. What could they do with Paul’s defense. That was Paul’s true story, as he said, they couldn’t disprove what he was saying.

Paul definitely demonstrates what can happen in us even in the worst or times.

Paul was there to tell his story, to tell truth, and he did, and he would continue to tell it beyond Caesarea.

Music

He Lives

CCLI Song # 17597

Alfred Henry Ackley

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today
I know that He is living
Whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy
I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

In all the world around me
I see His loving care
And though my heart grows weary
I never will despair
I know that He is leading
Through all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing
Will come at last

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

Rejoice rejoice O Christian
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King
The Hope of all who seek Him
The Help of all who find
None other is so loving
So good and kind

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

Message ‘Paths and Protocols’

Let’s begin this morning with a very potent greek word. This word will be our starting word this morning as as we begin our look at the apostle Paul while he is at a low point. A low point marked by disappointment, disillusionment, frustration, confusion, isolation and undoubtedly real and intense human fear. The reality is, it is a time of real and imminent danger. I think it is a New Testament moment that has very obvious Old Testament equivalent moment. Here we have the apostle Paul in a prison, in the Old Testament we have the prophet Elijah huddled in the back of a cave. It is a moment where both men have been faithful, yet now sat rejected, both had brazenly and publicly followed their God, yet now both were being savagely hunted down by hostile haters. In this moment, both men heard from God. 

To Elijah God asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”(I Kings 19:9)

But, to Paul, God said, “Cheer Up, Paul.” (Acts 23:11)

Can you imagine, sitting in prison after being threatened by a small group of your own people who vowed to kill you? Can you imagine chained because a small group of the leaders of the religion you faithfully followed since your birth now affirmed the vigilantes seeking your death? Can you imagine the response from God, in your moment of crisis, saying to you, “Cheer Up!”?

Θάρσει

Pronounced in English – Thar – Say

Say it with me – THAR – SAY, one more time.

Now, never say it again!

Not Human Word. Why? Because it is not a human word, the very saying of the word is a summoning up of power. Not something evil like the forbidden word in Harry Potter, but a word that strengthens, a word that encourages, a word that changes our inward and outward being, a word that is not only used as a verb but is, in its very letters, a verb, an action. On only 4 occasions in the New Testament do we see this word or it variant. Each time it is an imperative that calls for a human action which is only possible in the presence of a Holy Empowerment.

The use of this God Word carries with it a meaning of Cheer Up, Be Courageous, Be at Comfort. However, it is not just a group of letters that are voiced but it comes with action and an emboldenment. It is said, only to those most desperate, and those who are prepared to receive it and throughout whatever else follows.

God says to an imprisoned, rejected, endangered, and despondent man –

“Cheer Up, Be Courageous, Be Comforted! You will have to tell your story/My story in Rome, you are not finished!” (Acts 23:11)

Not only is it a word that only God can say, it is also a word that can only be said when humans can say nothing of consequence or rescue. Times of a paralyzed man who only had the physical power of friends who had no words – to him Jesus said ‘Take Heart’ (Matthew 9:2). Or when the woman, who had been suffering a 12 year continuous period, pushed her way through a crowd who knew only to silently avoid her, to her Jesus said “Be Comforted” (Matthew 9:22). To Bartimeus, Jesus said through his disciples,  “Be Brave,” (Mark 10:49), and to his disciples who were sure they were seeing a ghost, Jesus said, “Take Courage” (Matthew 14:27).

About a week later, Paul was brought into the presence of the governor Felix. Also there was the Jewish High Priest who was named Ananias, a small group of other Jewish leaders, and their attorney, a guy named Tertullus who began to present the accusations against Paul. 

  1. Paul had created an uprising among the Jews, which was actually an uprising against the Roman government and even against Felix.
  1. Paul was a leader of the Nazarenes, who were a religious group that operated without government permission – therefore this was a dangerous group who held ambitions to rebel and overturn the Roman government and therefore were out to take down Felix.
  2. Paul had defiled the Holy Temple, which would destroy the delicate balance between the Jews and Rome, and therefore posed a threat to Felix.

Throughout all that Tertullus said, and through all the affirmations from the small group of Jews that supported the accusations, Paul sat silently and respectfully. He followed protocol of waiting his turn and until he was summoned by Felix, the governor, to speak. This was part of Paul’s path at this moment, his path had collided with a very different path, now, he was not in control, not he was not on his territory, now his path had placed him inside the realm of the oppressor which was currently filled with those wanted Paul to be stopped on his path.

Now, as Felix motioned to Paul, it was Paul’s turn to speak. 

Remember, the last engagement we had see involving Paul was the word he had received from God – Θάρσει [Thar – Say], a verb that only God could truly and effectively say.  Now, Paul begins with an adverb, εὐθύμως [You – Thoo – Mose].

“I cheerfully, make my defense” (Acts 24:10).

Is that how it works? God says “Cheer Up” and now Paul, fearfully claims to be courageous? Is this a ‘Say it, be It’ motivational ploy? Probably not. Paul has had a week to sit on God’s instruction to “Cheer Up.” He has had almost a full seven days to consider what his courage stands on, what his peace is grounded in, and what his comfort is settled by. He has possibly even had some moments, possibly brief, where he has actually felt cheery, peaceful, and comfortable. He has probably also had many moments when he was none of those things. But, in the time provided him on his path, the time that he has been able to sit silently, the time he has had moments to ponder – he has come to the conclusion that his cheer, his peace, his courage, his comfort, has nothing to do with humans who have no power over God’s imperative Θάρσει [Thar – Say]. So he has chosen εὐθύμως [You – Thoo – Mose]. In this he responds to these accusations which he has just heard for the first time.

  1. “I did not stir up a rebellion, and it cannot be proven by any of these making this accusation.”
  1. “Yes, I am a follower of the way, the group you know called Christians. However, this is not a new sect, or even an unsanctioned religion. It is a continuation of the same faith as my fellow Jews, that are in this room, also practice. It is the path of this faith I have practiced since birth. It is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, it is the pursuit of Moses, it is our deliverance.”
  1. “In no way did I defile the temple, in fact, I was there only after having gone through the actions of purification in order that I would not, indeed, defile that Holy Place.”
  1. “The only reason I am here, the only offense these men have against me, is that I believe in the resurrection, which is fully congruent with Jewish belief.”

Paul’s unique path had prepared him for this moment, it had prepared him for these accusations, it had prepared him for his own cheerful defense. 

“God, set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace. Of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But, God was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles.” (Galatians 1:13-16).

Is it possible that the time Paul spent between God saying “Cheer Up” and Paul saying “I cheerfully make my defense” was spent pondering his own path. Thinking through his entire life time line. A time spent seeing how everything in life had prepared and brought him to the point. Being born in Tarsus, being a Roman citizen, brought up as a greek speaking Jew, an unyielding passion for his Jewish faith and the promises of a redeemer, a trip to Damascus, a moment in Antioch, and so much more. Is it possible that Paul’s week between ‘Be Cheerful’ and ‘I Am Cheerful,’ involved a realization that, instead of regret, his path had prepared him for all that God needed in order to prepare him for the path.  Is is possible that Paul, in recognizing God’s presence throughout his path, good and bad, led Paul to a trust, a peace, a courage, a comfort, that was impossible before. 

Is it possible that our path has done the same? Is it possible that we can look back in order to confidently look forward?

Let’s Pray

Music

Thy Word

CCLI Song # 14301

Amy Grant | Michael W. Smith

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

When I feel afraid
And I think I’ve lost my way
Still You’re there right beside me
Nothing will I fear
As long as You are near
Please be near me to the end

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering
Jesus be my guide
And hold me to Your side
I will love You to the end

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

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Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

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Benediction

So it is time for us to go out, to go amongst the other descendants of God.

To join with the beloved of God, those He created, those He calls to His purpose..

To walk with God’s descendants as well as with his children.

It is time for us to look back at our path and recognize that God can be trusted with our path ahead.

It is time that we go out with God’s compassion.

It is time that we go out with God’s mercy.

It is time that we go out with Joy.

It is time that we go out with Peace.

t is time that we go out with Love.

Closing Peace

May the grace, peace, joy, love, and hope of the Father go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s go. Let’s go into the marketplace among all the other loved descendants of God. Let’s go, let’s go as loved children of God in the midst of the public square. Let’s go, let’s go, not amongst enemies with whom we battle, but in the midst of our created brothers and sisters as light that shines in the darkness. Let’s go, let’s go held by the embrace of grace, the comfort of peace, the confidence of joy, the proof of love, and confidence of hope. Let’s go!

Closing Audio

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