Monday, February 27, 2012

Lent 1B - Remember Who You ARe

Lent 1b      Feb 26, 2012
Mark 1:9-15       Remember who you Are

Mountain Top Experience:
v Last week – we talked about a Mountain Top Experience.
§  How have you been effected by a Mountain Top Experience?

v Peter wanted to stay on the Mountain…
§  But God knew he would be much more effective listening and traveling back down.
§  We are called to listen and obey.
Luke 11:28  NIV—Jesus said: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
NLT—Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.
Ø  Sometimes the Mountain Top Experiences of others – inspires us to reach new heights, and new goals.
Ø  Sometimes those experiences – inspire us to slow down, and listen.

v I have been invited to join Team World Vision – and hike Mt. Kilimanjaro.
·        I’m trusting God to speak to me!

"Remember who you are" (Sermon Title)
§  Question:        Who are you?
What Defines you?

1.    Ash Wednesday, marked by the cross. you are a child of God!
2.    Baptism – put to Death, raised to Life.

§  We're all afraid of the wilderness
Ø  that's where change takes place.
§  Surprisingly, the wilderness in the Middle East is not barren... 
·        it is adaptable        it is hearty.
§  Backpacking/Hiking
¨      Don’t carry lots of stuff.
¨      Don’t bring a hair dryer, or electric tooth brush
¨      Must strip down and take the essentials

v We all face different wildernesses.
Ø  Emergency rooms, Separated from family
Ø  Technology... and social media
1000+ friends all online – Yet utterly alone

v Whitney Houston:
Was surrounded by community – Yet fully alone!
§  Reporter asked:- what's your biggest demon? drugs, alcohol, abusive husband???
§  She responded:  ME! Every time I had a choice...

• Think about the areas in your life where you feel you are being tested. Where are you struggling? Where are you facing pressure?
• Think about the ways that you deal with those tests or stresses. What ways are not advantageous to you and lead you away from God?
• Think again about the ways you deal with tests and stresses. What are some healthy ways you deal with trials that lead you toward God?

While the wilderness is scary at times
Ø  Occasionally it can be used to get us out of the routine.
Ø  When we go through the Wilderness – are we willing to "adapt"?
v Just prior to the wilderness – Jesus is baptized.
§  How does Baptism tie in?
v Mark throws these two stories together rather quickly.
§  Perhaps he’s rushing…
§  Perhaps he’s telling us something
¨      The need to die to self, be raised in Christ
¨      The need to intentionally go with the necessities
 * Which are only found in Christ

v When we are baptized:
§  We are fully immersed.
¨      dipped in, fully engaged, changed, transformed.
¨      Go in dry, come out wet.

v The Sacrament of Baptism starts here (in Lent – in the journey)
§  and is rounded out in the tradition of "being baptized" on Easter

v Starting with Baptism and the wilderness – is a kind of foreshadowing of what is to come.
§  Lent is rooted in the Wilderness experience.
§  40 days out – journeying to our true identity…
§  Found in the death and resurrection.

v Jesus’ Baptism & Wilderness experience is a wonderful reminder to be baptized, symbolizing our death and resurrection in Christ.
§  Have you been baptized?
§  Have you died to yourself – and been raised in Christ?
§  Have you placed the mark of the cross upon your life?
¨      Are you marked as a child of God?

v The wilderness begs this question:
·        How hard is it to do something new
¨      Particularly when you've been doing the same thing, the same way… for years???

v The Wilderness – is a challenge
§  To be adaptable
§  To be simplistic
§  To be utterly dependent upon God
¨      His grace, His Will, His guidance,
¨      His very presence in our lives.

v Remember who you are.
Ø  You are a child of God.
Ø  You are called by name.
Ø  You are

As you go, remember who you are. Go and Love.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


2/19/12                       Mark 9:2-10
Standing in the Awkward

Yikes:  Foot in Mouth, can’t stop talking.
1.   Jr. Year geography
2.   I was at a seminar on Wednesday... I hate just sitting there for 9 hours. I want to participate.
          I can't shut-up. I want to be involved.

The "awkwardness" of silence.
          Target = my favorite & least favorite store to shop at. No background music.

      Are we willing to slow down, and be quiet and listen?

v If we were continuing the "Spiritual Disciplines" series today: our title would be the Spiritual Discipline of Meditation.
§  Sitting, Being, LISTENING.

Mountain Top
v Our Gospel text is about a "Mountain Top Experience"
§  Do you long for the Mountain Top Experience?
¨     What about it draws us in?

v 2 weeks ago I was presented with an opportunity to have a MOUNTAIN Top Experience.
§  Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
¨     Why?
1.               See God's creation like never before.
2.               Be involved in the transformation.
3.               Continue to be inspired (and inspire) us to participate in God's Upside Down Kingdom... Where we give of ourselves!

v In our culture many of us long for the next high.
·        Be it drugs, extreme sports, or God's presence.
§  Drug High: I've had friends who lived for the next physical high... trapped in the cycle of drugs - trying to outdo the last emotional drug HIGH
§  Emotional/Physical High: I've had friends who try crazy trick after crazy trick - trying to out do the last emotional sports HIGH
§  God High: I've had friends who want to stay on the mountain top. Not wanting to come down into regular life - trying to maintain or outdo their God HIGH

Yet –things happen right before us, right around us. And we Don’t notice.
          Often God is working – without us ever noticing.
"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning (in 2007).  He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. 

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule. 

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk. 

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. 

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on. 

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. 

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. 

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100. 

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? 

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: 
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"
      Are we willing to slow down, and be quiet and listen?

v In the Spiritual Rhelm:
§  How many other things are we missing?
¨     What are our priorities?
·        Are we willing to slow down, and be willing to be quiet and listen?

Standing in the Awkward
v When Jesus is transformed... and is dazzling white - the disciples are terrified and don't know what to say...
§  So of course - Peter says: wow. This is great. We should build you a and Moses and Elijah tents so you can stay here...

v We like Peter: He's like us.
§  He just puts it out there.
§  He's blunt.
§  He's got that "foot in mouth" disease.

v As Christians: Our OBJECTIVE is to hear God, follow him, and "change the world"
§  hard to do when we won’t stop talking…
§  hard to do when we desire to plant our feet and get settled.
§  hard to do when we look to our own needs - through our own eyes...
and not to the needs of Christ - through HIS eyes.

v Standing in the awkward
Peter says all this "stuff" cuz he doesn't know what else to do or say...
Ø  And God simply says: This is my son, listen to him.

§  Here's Moses - the one who brought you the law. He's good.
§  Here's Elijah - the prophet, who you highly regard. He's cool.
§  Here's Jesus - my son. stop. drop. and listen. He's IT!

§  God Says: You don't need to look to the law or the prophets...
¨     Here’s Jesus.
§  He is all of them in one.
§  He hasn't come to abolish them - but to fulfill!

v In the midst of our spiritual Disciplines and Christian life/walk
§  Sometimes it can be easy to miss the God things taking place right beside us.
§  Sometimes it can be easy to want to talk and do things - when what we really need to do is slow down and listen!

v The story of the violinist - makes me wonder
§  how often the greatness of God goes unnoticed
¨     because, we're to busy (with our own agendas, talking, thinking we're doing the right thing)
¨     that we don't listen to what God actually has for us or wants of us.

v We like Peter. (we can relate to Peter)
§  But in this instance - we shouldn't be LIKE Peter.
§  Let’s try to stand in the awkward Amazement of who Jesus is!
§  Let’s stop talking.
§  Let’s begin listening.

v When we are on the Mountain Top.
v When we are in the Subway.
§  May we stand in awe
§  May we stand in Reverence
§  May we stand and listen to the ONE. 
¨     The one true God.

v Let's stand in AWE.
Ø  Let's worship the God of Transformation, Resurrection, and Redemption. 

As you go, May you slow down and listen when God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, show up and do the AMAZING - on the mountain tops and in the valleys of your life. Go and Love.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Study - Spiritual Discipline #5                 
2/5/12  Luke 19:37-40
(Part 1)
Psalms = provide room for Praise and Lament

Over the last 5 weeks we have looked at some Spiritual Disciplines: 
          Tithing,        Service,       Prayer,        Fasting,       and Study

v Last week we talked about the discipline of study - and I shared about my own "study habits" in high school.
§  In High School... my favorites were PE & Wood-shop.
§  In College & Seminary... my favorites were the practical. 
¨      The what's & how's

v In School - What were your favorite classes?
§  Why?
¨      Did you like the classes where the teacher simply lectured?
¨      Did you like the classes where you were put into groups?
¨      Did you like the classes where you got your hands dirty?

We learn in different ways:
Ø  We have different preferences, and expressions.
Ø  We are uniquely made – and learn and express that knowledge in different ways.

Worship should be no different!

The Psalms teach us this.
“The Psalms have nurtured, guided, and given voice to suffering for generations. Its alternating strains of lament and praise show a community coming to understand that “the Lord is King”
§  The Psalms give room – In our faith and in our Worship for both Praise & Lament.
¨      We know what Praise is…
¨      But what is “Lament”?
§  To express grief, to mourn, to deeply regret
How are they both used in Psalms?
          Psalm 4:2, 5:1-4, 10:1, 12:1-4, 13:1-4, 13:5-6, 18:1-2, 33:4-5, 59:16, 86:59:1-2

We all have times of Lament.
          This morning, I invite you to write on the back of tiles,
-      Break them
-      Pour the broken pieces into the appropriate buckets
-      Participate in communion.

(Part 2)
v We learn in different ways:
§  We have different preferences, and expressions.
§  We are uniquely made – and learn and express that knowledge in different ways

Worship should be no different!
§  Our purpose is to celebrate, encourage, and engage.
§  Our purpose is to come before God
¨      in all of our brokenness
¨      in all of our stripped down, basic/raw presence

v The question for the day is simply a question of comparison. Active vs. Inactive.
§  Is your faith, is your worship, is your presence before God – is it an active, life giving, expressive function of your life?

Active vs Inactive - Let's get ACTIVE!

Ø  How do you Worship the LIVING GOD???
          In Song (corporate, special)                                   In Prayer                                                      Baking Bread for Communion                                 Participating in Communion                          Through  Art                                                          Tithing/giving
          The Spoken Word                                                  Listening - Learning

They are all precious in the sight of the Lord.
Ø  They should all be celebrated within the Church.
Ø  We should bring praise to God as best we can.

v This morning – let’s be ACTIVE.
§  Let’s collectively Worship God.
¨      Taking the pieces of broken tile… glue them onto the board – and let’s worship God!
§  Let’s worship the God who is large enough to take the barren, broken, discouraged, and join them with the flourishing, growing, and thriving.
§  Let’s worship the God who provides room for each of us, as we.
§  Let’s worship God – today – through the different expression afforded us.

v As Luke reminds us: If we don’t Worship, if we keep quiet
§  The Stones – the rocks – will cry out,
§  The Stones – the rocks – will cheer.
¨      They will do it for us! 

As you go – participate in the activity of worship.              GO AND LOVE!