Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Sunday Message Based on Luke 9:57-62 and Revelation 21:1-4

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Proverbs 1:20-33; Revelation 21:1-4; Luke 9:57-62

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010

Opening Hymn: #367 – He Touched Me

Closing Hymn: # 589 – The Church of Christ, in Every Age (use melody # 643 to sing the closing hymn)

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We tend to think that we are capable of accomplishing things on our own, independent of each other. The lore of USAmerica is rich with images of superheroes, self-made men, the “lone rangers” who get things done against all odds, and do it with ease and poise without ever breaking a sweat.

The reality of life is that we need each other’s support and presence to accomplish just about anything. In February I knew that I wanted to drop a few pounds. I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish and I knew that I needed to focus on my behavior and lifestyle, not my weight. We accomplish goals by modifying what we do and how we do it.

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Nothing is accomplished by saying, “I wish…” and continuing to do the same thing that we did before.

So I started by making my goal public. Some friends and I made an agreement with each other to keep ourselves accountable and help each other to lose weight. Any time that I wanted a donut, I thought of my friends asking me, “can you afford the calories?”

God works in mysterious ways. Sometime in early March, I started working out and one day while in a water aerobics class, the instructor saw me splish-splashing in the deep end trying to do a simple exercise that everyone else in the class could do with ease. She came to where I was, helped me to do it the right way and then she asked me a rhetorical question, “what will I do with you?” I answered, “you will train me…”

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There are moments in life that infuse our lives with direction and focus. I did not know it at the time, but in hindsight, I know that this was one of those moments in my life.

As a result of faithfully working out on my own and in M.’s class, not only did I lose weight, I am also regaining my ability to climb steps. Since my operation it has been extremely painful for me to climb steps or to kneel. My current goal is that when Debbie and I are on vacation, I do not intend to see the inside of an elevator. Just three months ago I was not able to even think of that; today I have a really good chance to accomplish that goal. I am also working on regaining the ability to kneel; hopefully in a month or two I will be able to kneel at the chancel rail once again.

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This message is not about me losing weight, this message is not about Melissa and this message is not about me. This message is about God and what God is doing in our lives with the example of Jesus and with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This message is about us discerning what God is doing in this corner of the world. It’s about us helping each other to set a vision and goals for Christ United Methodist Church, it’s about us rallying around the common vision, mission and goals, and helping each other to accomplish these goals.

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When M. asked me, “what am I going to do with you…” and when I said, “you will train me…” something happened inside of me. I felt a twinge of hope, I knew that it was possible to get from where I was in February to where I wanted to be in the future. As a byproduct of that hope and that goal, I am also getting strong enough to climb steps again.

Church, can you hear me!

When we step out, God takes us further than we can even imagine.

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Vision infuses our lives with hope. When I realized that it was time to either buy a new wardrobe or to lose weight, that was a moment to make a choice. My personal vision was to lose weight, not to buy new wardrobe. When M. helped me to do that exercise in the deep end of the pool, that was a moment of hope. When vision and hope came together, I knew what I had to do, my personal “mission” for losing weight became clear. In order to accomplish what I envisioned myself to become, I knew what I had to do. I changed my diet drastically and I changed my behaviors.

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And sometimes I really want a donut. In my head, my friends still ask me whether I can afford the calories, and {1} whenever I can fit in extra 15 minutes of exercise or {2} when I can afford the calories, I have that donut (or any other treat for that matter). When I cannot, I just walk away. Vision helps us to discern and to engage in actions that support that vision; vision helps us to stay focused on our mission.

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A clear vision helps us to move forward with our goals. The human condition is such that we always want to fall back to the time when we were most comfortable. The Hebrew children wanted to go back to Egypt even after witnessing the awesome power and presence of God in their midst. Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back to catch one last glimpse of the past as her family fled to an unknown future (Gen 19:26). Jesus taught his followers, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Ideally the vision incorporates an awareness of God’s energy in the world. Ideally the vision helps us to discern what is needed to open the possibilities for us to flourish as a community and as children of God. Ideally the vision leads to new understandings of self, neighbor, and God – a vision of what can and should be. It goes without saying that any vision from God will incorporate the Great Commission…to make disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world. Ideally that vision would empower us to act, to wake up, to discern, to imagine, and step out, to communicate God’s love – a love that transforms HOW we believe, WHAT we do, and WHO WE ARE in God’s world.

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Vision inspires mission, and mission [missional involvement] connects and strengthens our lives with faith. Faith is not about the mechanics of how the world is made or how it operates. Faith challenges us to step further, beyond the “how,” beyond the Big Bang, and beyond the nuts, bolts, electrons and atoms of the creation process. Faith challenges us to imagine and envision a power and an activity so great and boundless that it only needs itself to create a reality that we live in. When we imagine this power, we recognize that everything in this world exists in relation to God and because of God. Missional involvement opens a window on all that, a chance to see God in action, a chance to look God in the face.

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Ideally the church is a community of those who have been immersed in the Holy Spirit’s presence and Jesus’ life and love. The church is a community of those who recognize that when we make a choice to discern and to follow God’s vision, we are renewed and made into different people. Like the Creation rising out of the watery chaos in the first chapter of Genesis, we are made new in our baptism, we are empowered by our celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Communion and we are energized in our mission and outreach with all the possibilities, all the absurdity, and all the infeasibility of our efforts.

As we approach the Autumn season with all of its festivities and celebrations, I want to leave you with a couple of questions to think about:

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  1. What are we doing to transmit our knowledge and understanding of God to future generations?
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  2. What are we doing to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?
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  3. What are we doing to be instruments in God’s hands?
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  4. What are we doing to invite God to work through us?

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