Ministry of Reconciliation?

2 Corinthians 5:15-21 (NIV)

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Click to hear Pastor Kevin’s Message from 3/31/19

The Ministry of Reconciliation and what it means to us.

Why I Support The Traditional Plan of the UMC.

Sin is Sin, right? If we call sin, sin, does that make us hateful? No! I believe those who do not call out sinful practices as sin are the ones being hateful by not delcaring the truth of God’s Word!

As a church leader, a pastor it is my duty to read, study, teach, and preach God’s Word given to us. If I as a leader do not declare a sinful practice a sin, then who will? Homosexuality is a sin according to God’s Word! Yet I have never heard, read or seen anyone who opposes the Traditional Plan make that statement. That would be hurtful and mean they declare. God is about Love not hate. That is only partially true, God is a God of Love. Yet God also is an unchanging God of Truth.

We do not get to define what sin is. God has already done that in His Word! https://bit.ly/2CMgsyg h

Clearly the words God inspired Paul to write almost 2,000 years ago ring true in our world today! https://bit.ly/1yd20cp

If we the leaders of the church do not call sin, sin, who will?

Homosexuality is a sin! Yet it is no greater or lessor a sin than my own sins. That is all I want to hear from those against the Traditional Plan. Call sin a sin. Because of Jesus Christ and his selfless sacrfice on the cross all our sins can be forgiven. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God loves everyone. That does not mean God does not call us to repentance of our sin. If there is no need for repentance, then why did Jesus go to the cross? “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Cheap grace isn’t God’s grace

On the Authority of Scripture

Why do we read, study and give authority to #Bible

David F. Watson

I was recently invited to participate in a dialogue on the authority of Scripture at United Theological Seminary with friend, Rev. Dr. Mike Slaughter. We were each given fifteen minutes to talk about how we conceive of Scripture’s authority. The following is the basic text of my presentation. I’ve edited it a bit to make it more appropriate for reading, rather than hearing. The ideas here, however, are entirely the same as those I presented. A segment of this talk is taken (with some modification) from my book, Scripture and the Life of God (Seedbed, 2017).

Dialogue, David, Mike, and Roz .jpg

Divine Revelation

The Christian faith stands or falls upon claims of divine revelation.

The central revelation of our faith is the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ. And that central revelation is disclosed to us through two additional sources of revelation: first Scripture and second tradition.

Apart from Scripture and tradition…

View original post 1,562 more words

God Is Faithful! What is your response?

Luke 2:22-40

Here is what I learned while I studied these verses.

First— Once again we see that God is Faithful…. God does what he says he is going to do… Simeon had been promised that He would not die before seeing the Messiah. We see God’s promise to Simeon fulfilled. That still leaves Anna, there is not any promise mentioned here. What little we know about Anna is just these few things, her family line,  Asher,  she was a prophetess, and she wasn’t just old, she was “very old.” We are told how after being married for 7 years, her husband died, and she lived as a widow for a long period of time. Is she 84 when this story takes place? Or as the original Greek seems to say, she lived as a widow for 84 years….. so 84, + 7 + however old she was when she was married… 14-15-16—- That would make her “very old” and what is this “very old” woman doing with her life. We read…  

“She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying”

So in the example of Simeon, I can look and say, God is so faithful, he does what he says he is going to do.  In Anna I look at her story and what I see is When People Are Faithful, God blesses them. I think Anna was being extremely faithful. How many of us, whenever we get to that age of being “very-old” would be at the temple everyday worshiping, fasting, and praying? Well the good news is that God does not want most of us to be at church every day, worshiping, fasting and praying.

     In Anna & Simeon, we have two different people. Two different lives lived. What is similar is that they are both being faithful. They are being who God created them to be. Simeon, a righteous and devote man, was waiting for the Messiah. God through the Spirit tells him. You will not die before seeing the Messiah in flesh. Simeon gets this promise from God, and then stays faithful. He does not rest saying, well I can just sit around and God will bring the Messiah to me, after all he promised me I would see him. No He continues being righteous, devoted, faithful so that when the Holy Spirit calls he hears it…

“Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” 

Anna just doing what she does everyday…. at the temple, praying, fasting, worshiping. Then she sees this little baby, and somehow she recognizes him the Messiah. She thanks God, and then goes around telling people about the baby Jesus. Here is the one we have been waiting for. Our Messiah has come. God uses unexpected people to share the unexpected good news of Jesus. Just like the shepherds from the Nativity Story earlier in the second chapter of Luke:

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

For me when I read the story of Mary & Joseph taking baby Jesus into the temple, having this encounter with Simeon, and then Anna…. It not only shows me that God is Faithful, it shows me God blesses people who are faithful. God rewards people who are faithful!! and usually the way he does it, is with other faithful people….. Joseph & Mary— They were being faithful…. They have both been told, by Angels and people, Mary’s baby, is the long-awaited Messiah. Joseph is not the birth father, God through the Spirit is the real Father. Joseph will serve as a faithful earthly father. I like most men, if I had found out our baby was the Messiah, I would be like,  why do we have to do all this religious stuff, he is the Messiah, He is God… What does it matter, why follow God’s Law, He is God’s Law. 

Yet Joseph and Mary did everything required of the God’s Law….. No shortcuts….

Circumcised, named the baby Jesus, brought him to the temple….

They were faithful & God rewards them with the affirmations and blessings from Simeon and Anna.

“The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them” 

Maybe God knew they needed some reassurance. After all it had been over five weeks. The shepherds had left, It was just Mary, Joseph, and this little baby Jesus. They had left the birthplace Bethlehem, made their way to Jerusalem, to the temple. And they get this unexpected Blessing, having two different people again confirm to them, yes this is the Messiah. This little baby boy, was the long-awaited Messiah……

Here is what my main take away is…God blesses people who are faithful to Him. In today’s story God is showing us how God Blesses people who are faithful. So what should our response be to God being faithful? If you agree with me that God is Faithful, what should your response be? If we accept God as being faithful, should not we in return do everything possible to be faithful to God? “If God is Faithful, We should be Faithful.”

For me, the best way for me to be faithful is to be who God created me to be. Our relationship with God is meant to be two-way. God loves us, wants us to grow into the fullness of what we are destined for. Once we discover that, we can not help but love and worship God. So how is your relationship with God? Do you talk with him daily? God wants nothing more from you than to be who he created you to be. The person he loved from the beginning, the person you are today, God loves You!

God is Faithful, what is your response?

(based on my message from 12/31/17)

 

Divided or United

Divided or United

(Taken from my message 8/20/17)

We often think these problems we are dealing with today, in our times, are new, never happened before. Yet a review of history shows what problems our world has today, have been problems throughout history. The problems may manifest themselves in different ways, but the core issues really don’t change much. That is why one of my favorite sayings is, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Yet here we are in 2017, and with what happened in Charlotesville, Virginia.
To even dream that there would be a group of people with Swastika’s demonstrating in broad day light, thinking this is their time to grow and gain influence in our country, The United States of America. Less than 75 years have gone by since America joined War War 2, to defeat Fascism. Over 400,000 American lost their lives in the second World War in a war to defeat Fascism. There are actually people walking around our world, today who insist that the Holocaust did not really happen. Or they want to down play it. Here is what history tells us about the number of people killed by Nazi Germany from 1939-1945
Between five and six million Jewish people.
More than three million Soviet prisoners of war
More than two million Soviet civilians
More than one million Polish civilians
More than one million Yugoslav civilians
About 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps
More than 200,000 gypsies
Unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, homosexuals and deportees
and a more recent study has suggested that the actual numbers may be even higher.
How soon we forget, “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Now the debate has been shifted to Confederate Monuments. I being someone who likes history likes having these monuments in public places. This enables us to teach our children and grandchildren, give a short lesson to them. Here is what that flag means, and don’t sugar coat it. Tell it like it is. The Confederate Flag represents a time when many people thought they were superior to other people based on the color of their skin. I could go on & on, but this is not meant to be a history lesson…. Let me just say, the end of the Civil War was just the beginning for the fight for equality in our United States of America.  I asked last week are we going to let culture and the world tell people who Jesus is, and what the Bible says, or when given the chance are we going to do it. Let me add to that, we are called to be a people who stand against all injustice that we come across. When we see injustice in the world we need to say, that is not right, and explain why it is wrong. We are called to be a people of the light. Called to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of the world.

We live in a broken world, there will be injustices and divisions we come across. That is part of living in our broken world. However we should not accept those things as ok. That is just the way it is. We should not accept things that attempt to divide people into different categories. Social and economic policies that make it harder for people to get help when they need it. See if we are really going to be followers of Jesus, we have to remember he really meant that love your neighbor stuff. I want to take a minute and just look at what happened the last night Jesus and his disciples are together. Jesus knows what is going to happen in just a few days, the crucifixion. His teaching time is coming to an end soon. Jesus is with his closest disciples. They have been following him for a few years. Yet Jesus is not done teaching them, he wants to share some important things, first Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, showing us what servant leadership really looks like. Those who are leaders need to serve those they are leading. They share the last supper together. Where Jesus gives us the Sacrament of the New Covenant,4 Holy Communion, “Do this for remembrance of me, and then he tells his disciples, A new command I give you, Love one another… It meant that much that it is one of the last things Jesus tells his disciples before his journey to the cross. Love one another, as I have Loved you, so too are you to Love one another…… This took on so much more importance and meaning after Jesus went to the cross. That is why I said, if we are really going to be followers of Jesus, we have to remember he really meant this love your neighbor stuff.

Mercy should be an important word in our faith life, and I am not sure it is. Yet it is by showing mercy to all, that God gives us the opportunity to have a relationship with him. Due to us being imperfect creatures, living in an imperfect world we can not escape being disobedient to God. By showing us Grace, By Loving us so much that Jesus went to the cross so that we could be declared right before God, God shows us that He is Merciful and Forgiving……..no matter how many times you or I are disobedient to God, He shows us Mercy and forgives us. Always!!   So what is the right response as people who have been shown mercy by God? We are called to Love People Like Jesus Loves us…. and here is the thing, we should know going in, we are going to fail. No one can love people like Jesus…Yet we have been given our orders…. Love one another….and to me, one of the easiest ways to love like Jesus….. is to show mercy to people…. I think we all have that ability to show compassion toward people. To forgive people who may have wronged us. As a person who has been a recipient of God’s Mercy, It is required that I show mercy to others……

There are always going to be disagreements and problems with different solutions. Yet shouldn’t we all agree to not let anything divide us. Especially if we are going to say we are followers of Jesus. When divided we are not as strong. When we are united the few become many, and the many become more. Together we will help to make the world a better place. Just by Loving our Neighbor as ourselves……