Blogging Break

Just to let you know, I’m taking a short blogging break.  I’ll probably post something Thursday — maybe?  How’s that for being vague?  Blessings….

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Rebuilding Broken Lives

Today, we take one last look at stewardship. Over the past four weeks we have looked at differing aspects of stewardship and we have learned that stewardship is how we manage God’s resources. We have looked at renewing our service, renewing our relationships, renewing our fortunes, and today we will look at rebuilding broken lives.

It should come as no surprise to you that we live in a broken world. We live in a world that has been tarnished by the fall. The region that we live in is no exception. There are broken lives, broken homes, broken relationships everywhere you look. We can even find them right here at Preston Wesleyan Church. What are we to do? Is there any answer for the world’s brokenness? The good news is that there is an answer – that answer is Jesus.

Before we go any further, let me ask this question. What does it mean to be a Christian? The word Christian, means little Christ. The other way we could describe a Christian is one who follows in the footsteps of Jesus or a Christ follower. What does it mean to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? What does it mean to be a Christ follower? To be a Christ-follower means to do what Jesus did. If we are a Christ-follower, we should instinctively do what Jesus did. We are going to take a look at why Christ came and how then we go about doing the same thing.

In the 4th chapter of Luke, we find this little exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees.

14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.[f]

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

22 Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

23 Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ 24 But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.

25 “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”

28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.

Jesus found his way to the Book of Isaiah. If you turn to Isaiah 61:1-2, you will find the same words spoken by the prophet Isaiah. As you can see, Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah was a controversial thing. Jesus was saying that what Isaiah has prophesied had now come true through him. What were the things that Jesus came to do? If we are Christ’s followers, what are we to do?

First, Jesus was anointed to bring the Good News. Let’s review what that means for just a second. The Good News is the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is that? It’s pretty simple – just like we sang this morning.

He came from heaven to earth to show the way

From the earth to the cross my debt to pay.

From the cross to the grave

From the grave to the sky

Lord, I lift Your name on high.

Simply put, the Good News is that Jesus (God’s Son – God in the flesh) came to earth – He came here willingly and He came here obediently. He came here to live among His creation. Then, He was crucified by His own creation for a crime that He didn’t commit. His body was broken and His blood was shed for our sins – it was a ransom – He took our place – He died the death we should have died. But wait, there’s more! If Jesus would have come to earth to live among us, that’s fine. If Jesus died on the cross for our sins as a ransom, that’s great. But there is a piece missing that so many miss. Some always seem to forget the resurrection. Without the resurrection, the story is incomplete. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ life on earth and His crucifixion would have been in vain. Without the resurrection – if our hope in Christ is only for this life, then Paul says, we are to be the most pitied people on earth. But the resurrection really happened. It’s because the resurrection happened that the keys of death, hell, and the grave were taken away. It’s because of the resurrection that we have victory over sin. I saw a sign several months ago, when we went to pick Rebecca up at Southern Wesleyan. “Victory in Jesus is a lifestyle.” Without the resurrection, there is no victory in Jesus – it is all in vain – what we are doing now is all in vain – if Jesus did not rise from the grave – we might as well stop right now, turn off the A/C, the sound system, the projector, and the lights and lock the door and go home. Because without the resurrection, all is in vain. Obviously, Jesus came to bring us new life in Himself. He came to preach that He was the only way. Jesus came to give us the Good News. Jesus tells his followers (and that includes us) to preach the Good News.

What else? We are to preach the Good News to everyone, not just the good people, not just to the people we like, not just to the people who smell good. If you would have smelled me after I finished work yesterday, I don’t think you would have wanted me in the pulpit this morning – Jesus uses the illustration of preaching to the poor, because Jesus wants everyone to be included in the Good News. In Jesus’ time the poor were neglected, just like they are today. We are to preach Good News to the poor. That means we need to preach the Good News to everyone. Like I said earlier in this series, when we give to God’s work – when we give to the Kingdom, we must not consider it an expense – we must consider it an investment. Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us. Just think, that means there will always be job security. We are to always preach the Good News.

Jesus also said that He came to proclaim release for the captives. Again it is no surprise that people are in captivity today. I speak not only spiritually but physically. The issue of slavery and human trafficking will not go away. That’s one of the reasons I love being involved with World Hope International, and by the way World Hope’s founder and CEO, Dr. JoAnne Lyon was elected as one of our three General Superintendents at our General Conference earlier this month. Dr. Lyon’s emphasis has been on helping the poor and helping the captive not only physically but spiritually.

Jesus also said that He was bringing sight to the blind – We live in a world that is spiritually blind and it is our jobs as Christ followers to light a candle – not to curse the darkness – but to light a candle and bring those in spiritual darkness into the light. Just this week, Pam and I heard a FEMA official speaking on the radio about faith-based groups, like The Salvation Army and World Hope International. He said, “In reality FEMA is a bandage – the real heroes are the long term groups. They are the ones in it for the long haul and they can not only help the physical, but the spiritual as well.”

Jesus then goes on to say that the oppressed will be set free. Again, it is no secret to anyone living around here that people are oppressed – again both physically and spiritually. I look around our county and see people who are oppressed by church leaders. I see people who are oppressed by feeling disenfranchised. That means they feel that they have lost a say in what goes on. They feel their elected officials don’t even care about them. I know how they’re feeling because at times, I feel the same way. We have people being oppressed by the fact they feel that they can provide for their family.

In all of this it is our job to bring hope – to bring the Good News of Jesus to them. You’ve heard me say this several times and I still believe it. Preston Wesleyan Church’s best days are not behind us, but in front of us. We are not down for the count – there is too much work to be done – there are too many people in Henry County that need to hear about the hope that we have. There are too many people who have heard the “bad news” about the church – they need to hear the Good News that Jesus came – Jesus died – Jesus is risen. That is a message that will help rebuild the broken lives that are all around us. My challenge to you is are you willing to step up and help us tell the Good News. That might seem like a giant to you. But what did we say about giants last week. Sometimes they seem too big to hit – in reality, they are too big to miss. How will you follow in the footsteps of Jesus today?

Worship Recap

June 29, 2008
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Welcome
Call to Worship
Songs of Worship
Hosanna (Tuttle); Lord, I Lift Your Name on High (Founds); Wow! (Petersen)
Invocation
Song of WorshipAt Calvary (Newell, Towner)
Worship through Prayer
Worship through Giving
Ministry Through Music

Song of WorshipI Will Praise Him (Crosby, Allen)
Worship through God’s Word
Song of Commitment
O to be Like Thee (Chisholm, Kirkpatrick)
Benediction

It’s Not About You

Since Rebecca came home from college, things have been interesting. One of her habits is thinking that every time is someone is talking, they are talking about her. I was talking to her about inviting another family to our home for a meal. The wife comes up to Martinsville to drop off her son for his National Guard weekend and she would like to get to know one of the pastors’ wives in Martinsville. I think they also have a teen-age daughter. I thought it would be nice for the family come to our house. Rebecca thought I was planning this visit so we could get her and the son together. Guess what, it was not about her. This is an example of thinking it is all about her — whether we talk about church, what we are going to eat, and anything else. Rebecca think it is all about her. How many times do with think that about ourselves? How many times do with think it’s all about me? Something to think about!

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 8 (13)
June 29, 2008

Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

Ever feel forgotten? Ever feel like nobody cares? This week’s Psalm has David wondering that. Here’s what David writes,

1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

It’s real easy to feel like David — we think the bad guys are going to win again — Why doesn’t anything ever go my way? Here’s the answer to our whining — But I trust in your unfailing love — I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he picks up that theme of what God has done for us and reminds us that because of Christ’s death on the cross and subsequently His resurrection from the dead, sin has no power over us unless we let it have power over us. Paul calls believers to be slaves to righteousness and not to sin, because we, as believers, are free from the power of sin and to live a life of holiness.

Part of that involves what Jesus tells us to do. I love verse 42. 42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” I remember several years ago, while we lived in Fort Miller, there was an annual Bike Fest not to far away. Because we were on the main north-south route that was not an interstate, many of the bikers made their way past our house and church. One Saturday morning, I was doing the lawn maintenance, when some bikers stopped in front of our church. It looked like they were trying to find a place to go to the restroom. I put down my stuff and let them in. As soon as I did that, I got some cups from the kitchen and ran over to the house to get some cold water from the refrigerator. Our tap water was bad there. I came back and offered drinks to the 12 to fifteen bikers gathered there. They were really appreciative of the rest stop and the hospitality. One said about our hospitality, “I almost makes me want to go find a church like this one back home.” Several handed me twenty dollar bills as they left and Pam and I put them in the offering in the morning. I got to meet some really nice people that morning and got a chance to minister briefly to them and offered them a cool drink of water in Jesus’ name. That’s the life of holiness lived out practically. Blessings…

My Life is Not My Own

Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC (not too far away from Southern Wesleyan University) has an excellent post about our lives as Christ-followers — “Integrity in life–no matter WHERE I am or WHAT I am doing is key to long term success…NOT just as a pastor, but as a follower of Jesus!”For
To see the rest of the article click [here.]

Mosaic Update

Although the attendance was small tonight, (yes, I know that’s been a theme of late) we had a great time.  Three students showed up but three were at Children’s Camp.  So we could have had 6 and we had five staff tonight.  That’s a first, more staff than students.  Several of our teens are excited about Teen Camp which is in a few weeks and we gave them some important details tonight.  Since we saw the group was going to be small, we made some last minute changes.  Originally, Pam was going to have the high school students at our house to make cookies for one of our chaplains who is deployed.  What we did was go over to the church and made the cookies there.  The Middle School students were to make our meal tonight.  We made the cookies and then I shared a devotional from 1 Corinthians 12 (using the example that one ingredient does not a cookie make!) about the importance of all of us in Christ.  We had some great interaction between the staff and students.  After that we had some grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries (with optional cheese) cooked in a fryer.  It tried some Texas Pete hotsauce on my cheese fries — it was pretty good.  It was a great casual night (no discipline problems!)  Mosaic is off on the first of our two summer — we will pickup back on July 16.  Carp Diem!