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

Very Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; June 14, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday: John 17:20-26

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV


UMH 451 – Be Thou My Vision (CUMC)

UMH 145 – Morning Has Broken (WUMC)

UMH 577 – God of Grace and God of Glory verse 1 (WUMC mid-service)

UMH 593  — Here I Am, Lord (CUMC)

UMH 369 – Blessed Assurance (WUMC)


{ Illustration }


Today’s Scripture is a portion of Jesus’ prayer for us as recoded by John. Last sentence in that prayer is, “I have made God known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love God has for me may be in my followers and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:26 paraphrase). Because God’s love for us is so powerful and intense, it is often easier to passively ignore it than to strive to respond to it.


We often talk about the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1), Christians on whose legacy we build our lives, our faith and our relationship with God. I am talking about Christians who give us an example of what it means to follow Jesus. I am talking about men and women whose faith and devotion to God has been evident in their prayers, their worship, their tithes, their service and their witness to what God is doing in their community inside and outside the walls of a church building.


A church family is called to be productive by making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world. To do that, we start with prayer, {} we nurture our relationship with God and with each other as we worship and tithe, {} we step out on faith with our service {} and by our witness to what God is doing in our community inside and outside the walls of a church building. It is that simple. Notice I did not say it is “that easy,” because what we are called to do is simple but it is not easy.


All of us have a tendency to confuse being busy with being productive. We also have difficulty differentiating between what is popular and what is effective.

It is difficult to find a balance between being effective and being popular. Any leader knows that he or she will have to make unpopular decisions in order to be effective. On the other hand, without developing some sort of “popularity,” being “effective” is an unattainable dream.


God’s love for us is so powerful and intense that it is often easier to passively ignore it than to strive to respond to it. A church building packed full of passive Christians looks impressive. On the other hand, a sanctuary filled with a few dozen dedicated, spiritually grounded disciples with a clear vision and understanding of their mission may look empty. Each of these churches will have a different impact on the world in which they live.

It is much easier to lead a community that is passive than empowering others to be in ministry. I think that this is the major reason why so many churches have to deal with numeric decline these days. Making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world starts with you and I staying in love with Jesus; that is the passive part. It is dependent on all of us (clergy and laity) to be passionately engaged with God and with each other in order to have an effective ministry in the communities outside our church buildings; that is the empowering part.


Traditionally we tend to think of pastoral leaders in terms of shepherds. I am not very comfortable with this metaphor because no matter how effective a shepherd is, it is impossible for a sheep to become a shepherd.

I think a much better metaphor to apply to our pastors would be that of a coach or a mentor. An effective mentor trains his disciples to lead and to help others. I am a pastor today because somebody took time in the past to recognize my spiritual gifts, to “eradicate my ignorance” and naiveté, and to nurture me in the process of transformation from an engineer to a pastor.


All that would not be possible without God’s grace. The way I understand God’s Grace is that God sends God’s Holy Spirit to fill every nook and cranny of our soul. God and Holy Spirit are the same; each of us is a soul with an earthly body that cannot be separated during our earthly lives. To each of us our souls are what the Holy Spirit is to God. God also made sure that we are prepared to treat the gift of God’s Grace responsibly (Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces”). God and Jesus are the same; By sending Jesus, God made sure that we are prepared and able to recognize and to respond to the Holy Spirit’s guiding on our lives’ journeys (UMH 364, verse 1).

Our lives are journeys of growing in God’s Grace. Our journeys have many stages. During each stage we have opportunities to learn about God and we also have opportunities to be vessels of God’s grace, to be God’s hands and feet in God’s world.


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