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

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; John 9:1-7, 35-41; March 26, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: John 9:1-7, 35-41 

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

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We are in the Season of Lent when we are challenged to take stock of our lives, to ask ourselves, “How is it with my soul?” Lent is the season when we take the time to make sure that with every day of our lives we are growing in our love for God, we strive to better discern God’s presence in our lives, and we make an effort to direct our lives toward God.

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The hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness (UMH 140) puts it like this, “morning by morning new mercies I see…”

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Last week we met the Samaritan Woman. We saw that in the beginning of the conversation, she dealt with her own pain by trying to bring Jesus down by making snide remarks. By doing so, she was elevating herself in her own mind.

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  • “You are a Jew, why are you talking to me?”

  • “Who do you think you are, do you think that you are greater than Jacob?”

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When Jesus was finally able to get through to her, when she stopped hiding behind combativeness and bringing everyone around her down, she learned how to interact with her neighbors on a totally different level.

In the beginning of last week’s reading the Samaritan woman was alone. At the end of that reading she was a part of the community. She actually became a leader, she led people to Christ.

Because she opened her heart to Jesus, her life was changed.  She was no longer burdened by her past. Her past no longer defined her future. She heard Jesus say, “Look at me! Put your focus on me, not on your past life” and her life was changed! What a transformation!

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Today we heard about the transformation in the life of a man born blind. After Jesus restored his sight, some of his own friends and neighbors did not recognize him (verses 8-9).

We have a tendency to define others in terms of their shortcomings, challenges, or perceived deficits.

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  • That woman is unemployed; this man is divorced.

  • She’s a single mom; he’s a high school dropout.

  • She is a failure; he is an addict.

  • She has cancer. He is depressed.

We even do it to ourselves.

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We allow past setbacks, disappointments, and failures to shape how we see ourselves and how we see our future. Because we live in a fallen world, we tend to define ourselves and others in terms of problems rather than possibilities.

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When our disabilities are turned into possibilities we are not sure what to do, and we have to figure out new ways to interact with the world.

The opposite is also true. When our disabilities are turned into possibilities those around us are not sure what to do, and they have to figure out new ways to interact with us.

Friends and neighbors of the man born blind had defined him and their relationships with him in terms of his blindness and they did not know how to interact with him after he regained his sight. They no longer recognized him (verse 9).

When the religious people learned about his transformation, they wanted to question him as well. Not happy with his testimony, they asked his parents. It had to be a scary experience because his parents distanced themselves from him (verses 18-21) without disowning him outright. It is a great example of how communities and families tend to react to change.

Time after time countries, companies, communities, congregations, and families, tend to organize themselves around a defined problem. We develop routines and habits to compensate for our disabilities instead of finding a way to heal.

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Because we live in a fallen world, these routines and habits make it difficult for us to move toward health, restoration, renewal, and transformation.

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Because we live in a fallen world, a known problem seems safer than an unknown solution; that is why we have such a hard time letting go of the things that limit us.

Jesus came as an answer to the fact that we live in a fallen world. That is why the transformation that Jesus offers is always disruptive.

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When Jesus comes into our life, things change. That sounds good until we realize that change is always disruptive. And then we wonder whether the change, that promise of a new life, is worth the effort required to reach it.

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{Illustration – This is Us}

Words of Paul found in Ephesians 5:

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NIV2010 Ephesians 5: 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

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Thinking Towards Sunday; March 26, 2017

{NIV and ESV}Scriptures for this Sunday: John 9:1-7, 35-41 

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

Also check Ephesians 5:8-14

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; John 4:1-42; March 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: John 4:1-42

You can read this Scriptures here: {Click Me}

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We don’t know much about the Samaritan Woman. We do not know her name, we don’t know why she had six husbands, we don’t know why she had to go to the well alone and in the middle of the day, instead of with a group of her friends and neighbors early in the morning when it was pleasant and cool outside.

I suspect that she was an outsider in her own village; that she spent quite a lot of time in her own company wrestling with her own thoughts or despising her neighbors.

We don’t know her life story. For all we know, she may have had several husbands because of the Levirate Laws that said if a man died and left his widow childless, his younger brother was required to take the woman into his own household and marry her.

We know, however, that the evangelist describes her as combative, irritable, and grumpy. When Jesus asked to use her pitcher to get some water from the well, she replied sarcastically, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Somewhere in the conversation, Jesus offered her the “living water” of life. Again she tried to pick a fight. “You have nothing to draw regular water out of this regular well to satisfy your ordinary thirst in the here and the now. Where is this ‘living water’ that you are trying to offer me.” And then she worked in a dig, “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who dug this well?” (Genesis 33:18-20).

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The singing group Georgia Satellites has a song Keep Your Hands to Yourself with the line,

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“She said don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.” That is pretty much what the Samaritan Woman told Jesus.

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“Bobruisk” – story 

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“Nurturing Wholeness” story

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“That’s the answer” story

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We tend to cover our pain and our fears by being busy and filling our lives with events. Another way to deal with pain like that is to bring others down, thus elevating ourselves. Throughout the conversation, that is what the Samaritan Woman tried to do to Jesus.

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  • “You are a Jew, why are you talking to me?”

  • “Who do you think you are, do you think that you are greater than Jacob?”

That is why Jesus took her on his version of the “Nurturing Wholeness” seminar. When she learned about the “Living Waters”, she was able to process her pain (John 8:32 – “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”). And when she stopped hiding behind combativeness and bringing her neighbors down, she learned how to interact with her neighbors on a totally different level.

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In the beginning of today’s reading the Samaritan woman was alone. At the end of today’s reading she was a part of the community. She actually became a leader, she led people to Christ.

Because she opened her heart to Jesus, her life was changed.  She went back to her village, and called people to tell them about this incredible man she just met.  Her words, “He told me everything I have ever done.”

She was no longer burdened by her past. Her past is no longer defining her future.  She has heard Jesus say, “Look at me!  Put your focus on me, not on your past life” and her life was changed! 

Many of the Samaritans became believers because of the transformation they saw in her.

Jesus shows us who we really are. Not who we want to be, but who we are. Imperfect, crabby, selfish, combative, clumsy, desperate, insecure, overly confident.

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Jesus is offering all of us the living water. Jesus is calling us to change our thinking because with new thinking come different actions. Jesus is calling “Look at me,” he says, “and jump into the deep water, the living water where you will find new life.”

Preparing for Sunday; March 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: John 4:1-42

You can read this Scriptures here: {Click Me}

“Those Who Dance Are Considered Insane by Those Who Can’t Hear the Music”

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; March 12, 2017; John 3:1-17

Scripture for Sunday, March 12, 2017 is John 3:1-17

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

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We tend to trivialize what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The truth is that being a follower of Jesus is not supposed to be easy.

Most pastors dread the knowledge that sometimes we may lose people or make them mad when we preach the Gospel. It becomes tempting for pastors to become people pleasers, desperate to pacify and avoid any and all confrontations. In the process we lose the message of the gospel, what it means to make disciples, and what transformation of the world looks like.

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Because of all that, we dilute the Gospel, and in doing that we “domesticate” Jesus. What I mean by this is that we lose the Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5) and make him into a harmless declawed kitten. Today’s Gospel reading about Nicodemus and his evening encounter with Jesus touches on that.

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The way the story goes, Nicodemus knocked on Jesus’ door late one evening. Maybe they shared a cup of wine or something to eat. We don’t know. But we do know how their conversation went. Nicodemus said something like, “Rabbi, you are a great teacher. You obviously have a powerful connection with God. I want to hear more.”Watch what Jesus did, or rather what Jesus did not do. Jesus did not invite Nicodemus to an informal church gathering the next afternoon to meet the Disciples. Jesus did not blushingly acknowledge Nicodemus’ compliments and modestly affirm his own heavenly pedigree. Jesus did not talk about the number of people in his posse. And Jesus definitely did not hand Nicodemus a multicolored trifold that summarized his teachings in five nonthreatening, easily remembered points.

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William Arthur Ward said once, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Jesus is a great teacher.

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Because of the level of his education, Nicodemus was beyond explanations and demonstrations. Nicodemus came looking for inspiration. And Jesus knew that.

Jesus did not try to water down the truth for Nicodemus or dilute the peculiarity of what it means to be a follower of God. “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) Jesus talked about rebirth, regeneration, and renewal. “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

Nicodemus was baffled. “Nicodemus, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. … 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

With these words, Jesus offered Nicodemus a vision. Jesus reminded Nicodemus that no one knows from one moment to the next when they will feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit of our God or how this encounter will change their lives.

It is in the context of this conversation with Nicodemus that Jesus taught, “14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3).

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We are in the Season of Lent when we are invited to struggle with the difficult questions of faith. Are you like Nicodemus who was set in his ways, reciting answers to outdated questions?

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Have you been born of the Spirit through “the wind [which] blows wherever it pleases.” Have you been born of the Spirit so that when “you hear its sound” you recognize it and respond to its nudgings? Do you know what God sounds like?

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Today’s Scriptures are about what it means to “be born again.” I am a Born Again Christian and I know that being Born Again is not a static state, reducible to an experience that happened on a certain date. I remember my date with trepidation and fondness because that is the day when I understood for the first time my smallness and God’s all-encompassing love and acceptance for me. That experience got me started on an ongoing process of learning and growing with God as my mentor. When someone asks me whether I’ve been Born Again, my answer is “every day.”

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Jesus understood Nicodemus’ weaknesses and challenged him to rely on his strengths.

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By naming Nicodemus’ fears and anxieties, Jesus fortified his faith and empowered him to seek new understandings and see new possibilities.

Thinking Towards Sunday; March 12, 2017; 2nd Sunday in Lent

Scripture for Sunday, March 12, 2017 is John 3:1-17

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; March 5, 2017; 1st Sunday in Lent

Scripture for Sunday Matthew 4:1-11

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

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Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Traditionally on this Sunday, we talk about the period of time that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil.

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Truth be told, most of us don’t know what to do with this reading because in our experience the Devil is not easily recognizable and he does not transport us from place to place in the blink of an eye like he did with Jesus. All of us spend time dealing with tough questions of faith but most of us do not face the devil in such an obvious way; most of our temptations are much more subtle.

So why did God make sure that this story is a part of our Holy Scriptures?

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Jesus’ temptation is not about our own ability to resist temptations. We are all tempted, and FREQUENTLY, by many things. The message from Matthew is not “resist temptation” but to take a closer look at it, think about it, do a turn-around, and figure out just what are those things that lead you astray.

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The reason Jesus allowed himself to be tempted by the Devil, and the reason that this story is in our Holy Scriptures, is because ALL of us struggle with temptations and tough questions of OUR faith.

I am talking about questions like:

  • Why are there children with cancer?

  • Why are there volcano eruptions and earthquakes?

  • Why are there drunk drivers causing accidents and killing people?

  • Why did my loved one die?

  • Why is there so much hunger and poverty in the world? Lord, with all that hunger in the world, why do we have overweight cats and need to buy DIET cat food to feed to them?

  • Jesus why is there so much conflict among people professing faith in the same God; why can’t we just get along?

  • Jesus, why did I get cancer?

  • Why is the climate changing? Why are there destructive droughts and floods?

One of the ways that God makes a new creation in us is by challenging us to ask and to seek answers to tough questions of faith. As we find answers, God renews us and God’s creation through us.

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The story of Jesus struggling with tough questions of faith in the desert is a gift from God to us. That story demonstrates that it is okay to ask such questions. That story demonstrates that it is okay to seek answers and be changed by them. That story teaches us that by seeking answers to such questions we learn who we are, we glean new understandings of God and what God is doing in the world, and we discover how we can partner with God. And when we are with God, all things are possible.

The temptation of Jesus is about being intimately connected with God, with God’s world, with God’s people and discovering God’s vision for our lives: “Be Thou My Vision” (UMH 451).

Personally, I’ve been to the “desert” a few times: the ministry inquiry process, seminary, CPE, mission trips, life-threatening illness, “Walk to Emmaus” experience. And every time that I struggled with difficult questions of my faith, every time that I had the courage to face my demons, somehow these demons faded away and I ended up facing God face to face. And every time that I face God and spend time with God, I grow in my relationship with God. That relationship gives me the strength and courage to do what I have to do, adjust where I have to adjust and adapt where I have to adapt in order to continue my God-given mission.

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In Isaiah 43:19 we hear, “See, I am doing a new thing!” In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we hear, “… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Because of my journeys to my “desert,” I am a new creation. Because of my journeys to my “desert,” I am in a continual process of becoming something new, something that I was not yesterday, because God is molding and shaping me to be what God needs me to be tomorrow.

All of us are invited to go into the desert once in a while. Most of us don’t like the desert because it is uncomfortable there and because we don’t like change.

Most churches are invited to go into the desert every few years because the culture around us changes, and that means we need to make changes to ourselves to be able to meet others where they are.

  • God, if we are so friendly here, why do we have so few visitors and why do so few of them stay?

  • God, we are faithful, so why don’t we see renewal and revival in our midst?

  • God, why do young people who grew up in our church leave our church as soon as they can?

“Behold, I am doing a new thing…” (Isa 43:19). We don’t know yet how God will use our community in the future. We don’t know yet what God will do THROUGH our community in the future. We do not know how we will serve God in the future. But there are some things that we do know: we know who holds our future and we know that when we find the courage to honestly deal with the tough questions of our faith, we grow and we learn about God.

Every journey has its ups and downs. It takes the community of faith to charter the course. It takes patience, persistence and energy to stay the course…

In Nehemiah 8:10 we hear that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” What Nehemiah teaches us is that without joy we have no strength. And what a joy it is for Christian sisters and brothers to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

{Holy Communion: Nourishment for the journey: “Dance Goes On” (UMH 261).  Transition to the Holy Communion}

Ash Wednesday Service @ Kingswood UMC

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This year the Holy Season of Lent begins on March 1.  At 1 pm there will be an Ash Wednesday Service in our sanctuary with voluntary imposition of ashes and Celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. Please make an effort to attend this service that marks the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent.

If anyone would like to receive ashes on their way to work, please contact Pastor Asher to arrange to meet at church on your way to work.

For those who are unable to attend our worship service at 1 pm, there will be a service at St. Nicholas’ at 7 pm.

Thinking Towards Sunday; March 5, 2017

Scripture for Sunday Matthew 4:1-11

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

In–Memoriam: Wilson Gartner. UPDATED Information!

Wilson Gartner passed on Monday, 2/20/2017 at approx. 6 pm.

Memorial Services will be on Thursday, March 2 at Ford’s Funeral Home in Chesapeake City.

Family and friends are invited to visit at 11 am. Services will begin at 12 noon.

Rest in peace, Wilson. Say “HI” to Barb!

Here is the link to Wilson’s obituary

In Memoriam: Wilson Gartner

Wilson Gartner passed on Monday, 2/20/2017 at approx. 6 pm.

Memorial Services will be on Thursday, March 2 at Ford’s Funeral Home in Chesapeake City.

Rest in peace, Wilson. Say “HI” to Barb!

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Mark 1:29-39; Sunday, February 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: Mark 1:29-39

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Next Week, February 26, 2017: The Salem County Brass Society comes to Kingswood UMC

The Salem County Brass Society is a non-profit organization that promotes brass music throughout Southern New Jersey and Delaware by awarding a music scholarship to a deserving senior student, in any music discipline, from Salem County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, and New Castle County. The senior must plan on attending college in the fall as a major in some music discipline.

You will be Blessed by their Ministry and Presence!

Free Will Offering will be received.

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Most of the time it is easy for us to think about what we will do next week.  It is a huge generalization, but with a few exceptions your life next week will feel a lot like your life this week.  The vast majority of us will have the same friends, the same job, the same routine, drive the same car, and live in the same home.

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“Most of life is routine – dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street.” ~~ Ben Nicholas

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Routine is what “polishes” our character, gives us time to think, allows us to strategize and gives us a chance to plan for the future.

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As I said earlier, most of the time it is easy for us to think about what we will do next week.  Your distant future is a bit blurrier.  It is hard to picture where you’ll be living, what you’ll be doing, and who you will be spending time with in 10, 20, 30 or 50 years.

For all of us, our ability to envision and then visualize the future is influenced by our memories from the past.

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I want to look at today’s Scripture from the point of view of the Disciples. The reading that we heard today took place fairly early in Jesus’ ministry. If we look at Mark 1 we learn that Jesus was baptized, spent time in the desert where he faced his own demons as well as the ultimate Evil – the Devil. When Jesus learned that John’s ministry was over (John the Baptist was imprisoned), his response was, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Then Jesus called the first Disciples, and they went to Capernaum where Jesus healed a man of impure spirit, and as a result, “27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.’ 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” (Mark 1).

I just gave a “Cliff Notes” version of events that probably took place over a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. At the time of today’s reading, following Jesus was a fairly new experience for the Disciples. That is where today’s reading started:

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29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

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How do you think the Disciples felt? Jesus did all the work healing people and driving out demons, but I bet that the Disciples felt proud and encouraged. “Look, I am with Him…,” they would say. At least some of the admiration and respect directed towards Jesus was bouncing onto them and they loved it. The Disciples’ social standing and status was increased just by being associated with Jesus.

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They were about to learn an important lesson: Jesus is NOT predictable. Mark tells us. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (verse 35).

The Disciples did not know what to do. Mark continues in verses 36 and 37, “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’”

What I think they were saying was that they [the Disciples] were looking for Jesus because without Jesus they were just a bunch of dudes out of place, who did not know what to do next.

Their anxiety and confusion is understandable. Remember, today’s reading comes from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Mark. We are still in the beginning for Jesus’ ministry on Earth. The Disciples had not spent much time with Jesus yet.

When they witnessed the healings, as they basked in the warmth of the admiration and respect flowing towards Jesus, more than likely the Disciples liked what they felt. I wonder if they were imagining starting a new synagogue and having a fruitful ministry in an area where everybody knew them.

That vision of the future would be so easy for the Disciples to imagine and adapt to. But it is not why Jesus came.

There is a saying that no one can cross the ocean until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore. The disciples were not ready to lose sight of everything that they knew and loved. They were not yet ready to “cross the ocean.”

{Illustration: This is Us, episode 1-3, Kate singing}

They wanted to stay close to their friends and families, close to their routine and fishing boats, close to their wives and homes, afraid to lose sight of everything they knew, loved, and were familiar with.

But Jesus had different ideas; Jesus was called to something different. “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come,” he said (Mark 1:38).

{Illustration}

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When Jesus told the Disciples that he wanted to go out there, that was a first glimpse for them of the future where they are capable of letting go of their “shore.” Jesus wanted them to go out there so that they had a chance to sing a song, to expand their minds, to reach beyond themselves.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

~~ Helen Keller

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Thinking Towards Sunday; February 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: Mark 1:29-39

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Approximate Notes For Sunday’s Notes; February 12, 2017; 1 Kings 19:1-13

Scripture for this Sunday is 1 Kings 19: 1-13

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

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“What am I doing here?”

“How did it come to this?”

I am certain that I am not the only one who has asked these questions of myself at one time or another. It is impossible to live life on earth and to be human without finding ourselves in that place.

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In today’s reading we find Elijah after a show-down with the prophets of Baal. It was a show-down that Elijah was led to by God (1 Kings 18:15) and I think that God did it in order to demonstrate to the children of Israel that Elijah was the real thing.

{Illustration: Show-down is described in 1 Kings 18}

It is in this place of desolation and in this time of despair that God gave to Elijah something like a Super Bowl half-time show. It was scary and noisy. Elijah did not feel God’s presence in the earthquake, or in the wind, or in the fire. Elijah felt the presence of God in the stillness and silence that followed.

Today we live in a society filled with noise. Noise gets our attention; noise stimulates our curiosity. God used the noise of the earthquake, wind and fire to prepare Elijah to pay attention. The sentence, “Ok, Poindexter, sit down, shut up and listen” comes to mind.

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Last week we looked at Jesus’ sermon about renewal and regeneration. “… if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13) Jesus asked.

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Today’s reading is about Elijah losing his “saltiness.” He was scared, unable to see beyond his current circumstances, and he felt powerless. He even asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19: 4 – “I have had enough, take my life.”) Listen to Elijah’s conversation with God.

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NIV2010 1 Kings 19:14 “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

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In Celtic spirituality there is a concept called “Thin Places.” A thin place is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth, between sacred and profane, is so transparent that God feels especially real to us. A thin place is a spot on a space-time continuum where we can look straight into the face of God, where we can touch the hand that holds the world. It’s a place where and when we – imperfect human beings – can sense and experience the presence of the divine intensely and vividly. It is a place where we are encouraged and filled with the Holy Spirit.

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We see Elijah in his “thin place.” I think that God sent him on an errand (1 Kings 19:14-18) just to get Elijah to recognize that life still goes on and to demonstrate to Elijah that he is still capable of doing things for God. God also gave Elijah hope. In verse 18 we hear, “I [God] reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” In essence God said, “Elijah, you are not the only one left.”

We all get frustrated or angry at some point in our lives. All of us know the feeling of being defeated or embarrassed by something that we said or did. We don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a fallen world and sometimes things do not go the way we hope them to because we live in a world where the forces of evil are active.

What we can learn from Elijah is that the most obvious answers and the easy answers are not always the right ones.

From his “thin place” experience Elijah’s world view was challenged, and he reached a new understanding. In order to get to that new understanding, he had to lose his bearings, and he was forced to find new ones. He was jolted out of his comfort zone, out of old ways of seeing the world, and challenged to seek a deeper understanding of the world.

It takes maturity, patience, courage, and discernment to keep going in times like this.

Today we have with us Scout Troop 603. Scouting prepares and builds young men for their future lives. Everything worthwhile takes time, effort, perseverance and strength of character to accomplish.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting said once, “The secret of sound education is to get each pupil to learn for himself, instead of instructing him by driving knowledge into him on a stereotyped system.”

We all asked ourselves the question “How in the world did I get here?” Scouting prepares young men and women to face such times with courage and dignity, and teaches them to persevere, listen and learn from those experiences.

Throughout our lives we are in the process of becoming something tomorrow that we were not yesterday and are not today. God did not create us to grovel in the grime of our sins the way Elijah did in that cave. God created us to be the best version of the image of God that we can be.

Thinking Towards Sunday

Scripture for this Sunday is 1 Kings 19: 1-13

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

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