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Sermon Responses

This last week at Lifehouse Tara Lopez spoke from 1 Timothy 4 on the premise of youth being a disqualifying factor to ministry. She specifically talked about the myth of AGE being something that has the ability to prohibit someone from engaging, fulfilling and finishing the work God has set before them. Quoting 1 Timothy 4:11-12 “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” From her examination of this passage Tara set out to bust the myth of “Youth being a barrier to respect, authority or effectiveness.” Throughout the rest of her sermon she explained the importance of a life that is internally postured in worship and in pursuit of Jesus, from that we take part in the eternal things of God. Our outward physical aging and advancing towards a “wizened” age does not validate our callings in ministry or secure our ability to be authentically seeking after everything Jesus has for us. Paul addresses it clearly when he says that what proves, and strengthens what God has called us all to do, to be an example of the work of His kingdom, by the things we say, the way we live, the way we love, our faith and our purity. These things display the posture of our hearts. That is what it means to be the example. The quality of our character is displayed by an outward response caused by an eternal God who met us in the very depths of who we are.

I’m twenty-one years old now, and where that is not my claim to wisdom and maturity, it is merely a reference point. My age is nothing but a marker, to remind me of God’s faithfulness of the past, His faithfulness of my present and his promised faithfulness for my future. God does not ascribe more capacity for us to do great things for His name, as we get older. In fact, it seems counterintuitive to think that our age can make us more capable of doing more for Jesus, when in reality, the higher those numbers get, the closer to being with Jesus we move, and the less time we have. Regardless of being a youth, or an adult, one cannot be consumed by the number of reference called “youth” or “not youth.” The time is now, Christ to be known by the things we say, how we live, love, have faith and live in purity.

I am challenged to live not to the low, or constraining limitations of my age’s expectations for me. Timothy is commanded by Paul to teach as an example to everyone so they may learn from a youth. The point being, that low expectations from anyone is irrelevant to what God has called and asked us to do. I am challenged to not be “good enough” in what I say, how I live, love, have faith and live in purity. I am challenged to live in a manner that would set an example. Something that would cause people not to look at my age, my external being, but that they would see evidence of an eternal God, who lives in me.

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Pastor Scott talked about how our society is so impatient they can’t slow down. “People yelling at other people because they are going too slow…” I can see it. I even find myself doing it. I complain when people are walking too slow in front of me when I’m going from class to class. Maybe they’re not going too slow, maybe I’m going to fast. We need to take the time to stop and think of others more often. With Christmas around the corner it brings out the worst in us. “We are running around fighting, pushing… for the so called ‘perfect gift’ that will be forgotten in a couple of years.” Its better to spend time with family and friends.  They won’t forget the person you are. Those times together will remain as memories of how Christmas should be, not this materialistic mess that we’ve made it to be.

John Parker

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Today, Scott wrapped up the “Radical” sermon series with a message about “togetherness.” He

read from this passage:

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say,

“Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop

being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not

belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole

body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear,

where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body,

every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would

the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. / 1 Corinthians 12: 15-20.

He encouraged us to find that thing we are passionate about (having people over for dinner,

playing guitar, working with kids, etc) and bring that gift to church life, in order to find our place,

our purpose, and our fit. Now, and look at the next few verses:

21-27 / The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to

the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be

weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable

we treat  with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with

special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put

the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no

division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one

part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every

part rejoices  with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of

it.

Sometimes, people try desperately to fit in, to be authentic or even just present, but their efforts

are blocked by a lack of acceptance. Look, it’s easy to honor the “shiny” people in our midst

(and no, that’s NOT a crack about baldness) but it can be a lot harder to honor those who seem

weak, or even broken. It’s not that they are more weak or broken than anybody else, it’s just that

they are more honest about it.

When we we pastors of a little church plant in Fresno, a brain-injured man named Ted found

us, and made our church his home. Ted was loud. Ted was comfortable with interrupting the

sermon to add commentary. Ted hung out by the food table and chewed with his mouth open.

Ted would burp often and showered rarely. One time he ate too much and threw up all over the

floor.

There were a few people who left our church because of Ted.

Our response was, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Why? Because the

shiny people can go to church anywhere, but Ted, well Ted could only come here. He rode the

bus to church, and would have to walk the last six blocks in 100+ heat. No wonder he showed

up with B.O. Ted lived on $800 a month. No wonder he loved the treats on the food table. He

told me once he was working hard to pay off his debt so he could start tithing, “Eighty dollars,

right?” Ted was excited at the idea of living off $720 a month, if it meant giving to the Lord.

Then, one Monday, Ted was found dead in his apartment.

He had a heart attack. There was no family in Fresno to mourn him. Except us. With shattered

hearts, we devoted a Sunday morning to his memorial service. A few of his friends showed up,

including an older gay couple I’d been inviting to our church for years. Unbeknownst to us, they

had been watching us, watching to see if we really were a loving place.

With Ted gone, our church was never the same. The very best of us had gone ahead. And we

felt the lack of his presence desperately. My husband told me once, “If the only reason God had

ever had us plant this church was so that Ted could have a family, then it is enough.”

Love and honor, cherish and protect the weaker members, because at some point you will

realize they are the best of us all.

On Palm Sunday Pastor Scott spoke about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-44, Matt 21:10-11) and with it three simple things we can do in “Preparation for Easter”.

  1. Do what Jesus says. (Luke 19:28-35)
  2. Feel what Jesus feels (Luke 19:41-43)
  3. Share who Jesus is (Matt 21:10-11)

Personally, I don’t like being told what to do. I might gripe and grumble for a bit, but eventually I’ll do it. Really, though it all boils down to how I’m being told, because after all, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

But is it really all that different when it’s God telling me what to do? After all, it’s God – by default I’m supposed to listen, I’m supposed to be obedient, I’m supposed to submit. Sadly, the same process applies – I still may grip and grumble, but not as long and the end result of my obedience to God ultimately lightens the weight that was once on my shoulders.

I remember two years ago when I was at a Ladies retreat with my mom. The speaker was talking about her childhood and how she didn’t have the best relationship with her parents. Once she had children, she learned that in order for her children to respect her and her husband as their parents – she would have to start treating her own parents with the respect they deserved (even if they didn’t rightfully deserve it). Right then and there I could hear God telling me, “Jonelle, you need to stop being sarcastic to your dad.”

“What?”

Asking me not to be sarcastic was like asking me not to breathe. I think God realized He needed to be more specific. “You need to not allow your sarcasm get to the point of passive aggression. You need to be more respectful to your dad.”

It was then that I realized that if the change didn’t start with me, how could I expect my future child(ren) to respect my husband as their father if I didn’t respect my own father? And further, how could I except share who Jesus is with my dad, if I’m not showing God’s love to him.

“Okay, God. No sarcasm to the point of passive aggression. Please help me, because I will need it.”

A week after this moment I was put to the test when I was to spend a day with my dad. I was surprised at this simple obedience to God that I actually enjoyed the day with my dad. There was no anger, or resentment or the need to argue with him about the inconsequential. There was only compassion, a compassion that could only have come from being obedient to what Jesus says, which allowed me to feel what Jesus’ feels, and with my actions share Jesus with my dad.

Even two years later, it is still a conscious effort on my part to remember to watch my sarcasm when it comes to my dad. After all it is my love language, but I find that my visits with my dad are more enjoyable when I embrace God’s obedience, remember to feel what Jesus feels, and hopefully all of this will prepare me for the time I will truly get to share with him what Jesus did for us.

Jonelle

 Pastor Scott’s sermon today, Palm Sunday, was about doing what Jesus says. He explained how a sole act of obedience ushered God into a city and how a sole act of obedience on our part could also usher God into our lives and neighborhoods and cities. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, Jesus wept when he saw the city- deep weeping like mourning. When we allow God to let us feel the way He does- we will weep, too.

When Pastor Scott was speaking my thoughts went to the Bible verse, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5) If we ask God to give us His heart for people who do not yet know Him, He will give us His heart! We will see the world through His eyes. Like Jesus, we will weep for those who are lost. But we can have faith that our weeping is not for nothing. The Bible promises that we will see people come to faith in Jesus. We will return from telling others about Him shouting with joy! From personal experience, I can say that I haven’t always returned from telling others about Jesus with shouts of joy. Sometimes I have told people only to return home with more tears. I have obeyed what God asked me to do and not seen any results and have felt discouraged. When that has happened, I have to trust that just because I didn’t see the “results” I was looking for, God is still doing what He wants to do. I may never see the results of my obedience, but I can trust that He will accomplish what He wants to accomplish.

Pastor Scott also said that it might be that only you and God know what He is asking you to do- but if you obey God, obedience can change your life and the lives of those around you.

What if you don’t know what God wants you to do? If we don’t know what God wants from us, we can always assume that He wants us to share Him with the people we know who do not know Him. We will never go wrong with the two greatest commandments: He wants us to love him and love people- we can never go wrong with that!

Pastor Scott said, “When we come to Jesus, we realize we are far more broken then we ever realized.”  To come to Christ we must see our need of salvation.  We have to come to a place where we see our sin and repent.  We must see our need to be saved. Who is Christ, if not our Savior?  

I grew up in the church and knew a lot about the Bible.  I went through Confirmation.  I took communion.  I knew the right things to say.  But I didn’t understand, on a personal level, my need for a Savior.  Even though I knew that I was a sinner, I didn’t know that Jesus could forgive me and HEAL my brokenness. I didn’t know that if I gave Jesus my brokenness, He could heal me and make me whole. I felt stuck in a loop of sinning and having the pastor announce my forgiveness. The forgiveness announcement, whether it came after communion or to the whole congregation at the end of the service, did not mean anything short of “fire insurance” to my young mind.  A friend invited me to his Foursquare youth group and to make a long story incredibly short, after hearing the message of salvation presented to me in a new way, one night in my room I wrote down all the sins I could think of, placed that piece of paper in a metal trash can and lit it on fire.  I asked Jesus to take away my brokenness and forgive me and heal me.  From that point on, Jesus changed my life.  And if I had thought that I was a sinner before then, I KNEW I was a sinner after that. I saw the holiness of God and knew that I in no way could ever measure up. I saw that in spite of my sin, Jesus loved me and accepted me and offered me forgiveness and a new life. From that night forward, the Holy Spirit continued to show me my sin and brokenness.  Things inside of me that I hadn’t thought were wrong, He convicted me of them and showed me how to change.  Even thoughts that I held about other people or myself, He showed me my brokenness and slowly started changing me.  And now, 20 years later, the Holy Spirit shows me my brokenness on a daily basis.  I still receive His healing and His righting of my thoughts and actions each day.  I KNOW that I am a sinner, but I know that Jesus offers wholeness and healing and purity and peace and hope and joy and acceptance and righteousness because I am covered by the blood of Jesus who died for me.  He promises that His mercies are new every morning!

The Bible says that God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him (JESUS) we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21NIV

Because Jesus, who is sinless, took upon our sinfulness and brokenness, we can have new life in Christ! No matter what, Christ can forgive us and heal us. Like Pastor Scott said, we just need to realize our brokenness and let Jesus change us

Sunday’s sermon, in preparation for the celebration of Easter, themed around three words: Find, Tell, Bring.  Mention was made of the “Great Commission” and immediately my mind began to wander down a bunny trail.

It started when I jotted down this: “Co-Mission.”  Because I am a word geek, before I knew it these words were randomly scrawled across my page: commit, common, community, communion, commiserate.  Having been invited to write this week’s blog, I decided it would be about the Great Commission.  After all, in my Tuesday morning prayer group, it’s been the center of our conversation for the last few weeks, so certainly this was a sign from God.  I would study it and then write three brilliant paragraphs.  I started with the Dictionary.

com·mis·sion

Noun
The authority to perform a task or certain duties.
Verb
To authorize; send on a mission.

Ah.  Not quite the “CO”-ness I was expecting.  And actually, commission is used most often as a military or legal term.  Well then, who termed Matthew 28 “The Great Commission” in the first place?  Turns out, nobody really knows.  But the idea seems to have first emerged in the 14th century.  What?  Does that mean it’s just a 14th century idea?

After trying to do just a little word sleuthing, I was already flummoxed!  I honestly and truly expected the word commission to fit hand-in-glove with the words communion and community.  Had I “mis”ed” it?  Meanwhile, God noticed how far I had hopped down my bunny trail and tapped me on the shoulder.  “Hey, let’s read Colossians.”

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.  We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

Col 1:3-6, 9-12/New Living Translation

Wait.  That makes it sound more like an organic process and less like an ordered process!  The sharing of the Good News isn’t a command?  Haven’t we made a commitment?  But now you’re saying it’s more like farming?

Here is the beauty of God.  When the Good News goes out, it is both ordered and organic.  The act of scattering seeds is deliberate yet where they land is somewhat random.  So it is about living a good life and speaking life-giving words.  It is packing your suitcase yet being willing to leave it all behind.  It is intentionally planting and it is also waiting for the sun and rain, and time, to do their jobs.

And I think maybe that was the point of the sermon.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

Lucinda Chumley

March 17, 2013