Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Healthy Living

Matthew 12:33
“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree."
-The Message


I know I'm taking this scripture out of context a bit but it is absolutely true. If you want healthy fruit, you'll grow a healthy tree. So it goes to reason that if you want a healthy person, you'll do healthy things to be that person.

So far we've been doing things that make a difference. Either in our own lives or in the lives of others. But if we aren't healthy, we can't help others.

Thus in order to "put on our own oxygen mask first," we need to take an interest in our own health. What do you do to stay healthy? Go for walks or eat fresh fruit and veggies? How about get more sleep?
  
Ah sleep, the forgotten virtue! Sleep is essential but I never really understood the complexity of that statement until reading Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall.

In his book, Randall gives an easy to understand, scientific explanation of all aspects of sleep (or at least as much of an explanation as we have discovered so far). Once you read it you'll understand how restorative sleep can be.

And what about what you put into your body? That can be confusing as well. There are so many differing opinions and options. But one thing is a safe bet: if you can grow it, you can eat it. I know there are a few exceptions here but in general, stay away from bags and boxes. Go back to the garden. Eat the things God talks about in Genesis in as pure of a form as you can get them.

So eat right. Get moving. Then rest. Then tomorrow you can be a healthy tree and bear healthy fruit.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Soul Tending Through Holy Conferencing

Acts 4 - The Believers Share Their Possessions


32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

When I think of the Biblical idea of Christian Conferencing, I think of this passage of the Bible. Not because I think we should redistribute all of our wealth but because of verse 32. They were one in heard and mind. They were so focused on God that everything else didn't matter so much.

I enjoy getting together with my friends from church but there is a difference between "getting together to have fun"and "getting together to be one in heart and mind."

In John Wesley's Holy Club's he used to always ask, "How is your soul today?" That, my friends, is Christian Conferencing. When we are more concerned with someone's soul than with their Facebook status then we are becoming more Kingdom focused and can channel God's grace at work in our lives.

Cornerstone People: See you next week at Chick-fil-a and Ruby Tuesday! (and for more than just bacon)



Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We Have A Dream




The close of my sermon today was a contextualized version of this famous speech. I wasn't sure if I could do it "justice" (pun intended) but I do feel like King was honored and Jesus was praised.  Here is a transcript of my rendition of the speech from our 11:15 am service.

...And while today might not go down in history as the greatest demonstration of social justice in the history of Cornerstone…
Sevenscore and eleven years ago, a great American, in whose honor we celebrate a holiday next month signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. And two score and eleven years ago, another great American, in whose honor we celebrate a holiday tomorrow gave a speech at the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
But 51 years later, not everyone is free; 51 years later lives are still crippled by the manacles of injustice and the chains oppression. 51 years later we still have people living on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity; 51 years later, humans still languish in the corners of American society and find themselves in exile in their own land.
So we’ve come here to today to worship God but also to proclaim injustices in the world as we dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to church to day to cash a check. When the prophets of the Bible wrote their magnificent words in Amos and in Micah, they were signing a promissory note to which every Jew and later Christian was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all are called to do justice and walk humbly with our God.
It is obvious today that we as Christians have defaulted on this promissory note in so far as the marginalized are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, Christians have given others a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of grace in this church. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind not just ourselves but our community of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of the gospel; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of oppression to the sunlit path of justice for all; now is the time to lift our community from the quicksands of injustice to the solid rock of Cornerstone; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for us to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of oppressions discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.


2014 is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that people who stand up for others’ rights just need to blow off steam and will now be content, will have a rude awakening if we decide to return to (going through the motions) business as usual.
There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the oppressed are granted their rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our faith until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to those who stand on the threshold which leads to the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for what is right by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our quest on the high plane of dignity and discipline. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting cultural, political, or physical force with spiritual force.
The marvelous new complacency which has engulfed our society must not lead us to a apathy of all cries for help, for many of you have come to realize that the destiny of those who cry is tied up with our destiny. And have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of human rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as there victims of these unspeakable horrors. We can never be satisfied as long as children are being sold into sex slavery and transported through Atlanta. We cannot be satisfied as long as basic needs for food and water are not being attended to across the globe. We can never be satisfied as long as children are denied education in order to work as free labor. We cannot be satisfied as long as our Christian brothers and sisters are worshipping in secret and unable to read and share the gospel. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹


I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Each of us has a story of our own personal injustice.  You have been the veterans of individual creative suffering and have seen or heard the suffering of others. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Summer Grove, go back to Barrington Farms, go back to Cannongate, go back to White Oak, go back to Lake Redwine, go back to the suburbs of Sharpsburg and Newnan, knowing that somehow these situations can and will be changed. Starting with us.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to Cornerstone today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, we still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in Jesus’ dream.
We have a dream that one day this church will rise up and live out the true meaning of its faith: "Love God and love your neighbor."
We have a dream that one day on the plains of Hartsfield-Jackson, only travelers and business people with good intent will be on board.
We have a dream that one day even the country of North Korea, a country sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
We have a dream that the children in our children’s ministry will one day live in a world where they don’t have to worry about if their purchases are fair trade. Where they need not worry about the content of their consumerism but the content of their character.
We have a dream today!
We have a dream that one day in Coweta county, with as One Roof states has over 300 children living in homelessness in this area. One day perhaps we might might have the resources available so that our people will not live in poverty.
We have a dream today!
We have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that we go home with today.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of people. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be make a difference one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace
And if Cornerstone is to be the church that it is called to be, this must become true.
And so sing thy grace from the prodigious hilltops of Buckhead.
Sing thy grace from the mighty mountains of Dahlonega.
Sing thy grace from the plains of south Georgia
Sing thy grace from the beaches of St. Simmons
But not only that:
Sing thy grace from Ashley Park.
Sing thy grace from the Square in Newnan.
Sing thy grace from Thomas Crossroads.
From every crossroads both physical and spiritual, sing thy grace.
And when this happens, when we tune our hearts, when we let God in from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children will be able to join hands and pray:
               Your kingdom is here. Your will is done.

Until Everyone Hears,



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Revival through Seeking Justice

Seek Justice

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

-Micah 6:8


From UMC.org - The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles. Early Methodists expressed their opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, and to the cruel treatment of prisoners.


So how do we seek justice?


We can start by looking around us. Do we see people or families who aren't able to live life to the fullest because they cannot get access to basic human needs? Forget your political agenda for a minute and think about actual people. Not statistics. Chances are you know someone who falls into this category. Perhaps they haven't made it known to you. Ask God to open your eyes. Today you might make a discovery. And when you do, start with them. It might not change the world but it will change their world.


Still can't think of anyone? Alright, lets think bigger. What really gets your blood steaming? Cruelty to children? Abused families? Abused pets? People living in poor housing conditions? People who are hungry?


Pick one. Just one for today. Research what is going on around you and then around the world with this particular problem and then find an organization that is helping to fix the problem. Not sure where to start? Do what every high school student does when writing a research paper... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Humanitarian_aid_organizations


From there the rest is up to you. You can donate. Volunteer your time. Or pray. The bigger the commitment the bigger the impact.


Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Revival Through the Means of Grace

Sometimes a re-run is a good thing. Last year I started off the year with a few others by acting on our faith and if we didn't feel our faith was strong enough - we acted in order to have stronger faith. It worked.

So this year we are starting 2014 in a similar fashion. We are starting a sermon series at Cornerstone UMC called "Revival Through the Means of Grace." Each week we will be preaching on a different Means of Grace and giving some ways for each of us to experience these practices and find the grace of God within them.

Discipleship is about loving God….It is more than an acknowledgement of God’s existence or a statement of belief regarding God. It is total devotion, head-over-heals-in-love-with adoration. It is the deep desire to know God, to be one with God, and to worship God. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, called the practices that facilitate this the means of grace. They are means for developing our relationship with God and for experiencing God’s presence in our lives. These practices help us spend time with God, a significant factor in loving God. (paraphrased from umc.org)

Some of the means of grace are easy for Christians on their faith walk. Others take a bit more of a push.

The means of  grace are:


  • prayer (both public and private)
  • fasting
  • reading scripture
  • healthy living
  • communion
  • baptism
  • attending worship
  • sharing faith
  • Christian conferencing
  • good works
  • visiting the sick
  • visiting those in prison
  • feeding the hungry
  • giving to the needy
  • seek justice
  • work to end oppression 
  • work to end discrimination
I'm excited to share this experience with others. I'm curious to see what God has in store for us!

Until Everyone Hears,

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