Sunday, October 29, 2017

Measure By God

• Twentyfirst Sunday after Pentecost
with James 4:11-18  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk
This sermon viewable on youtube at

• It is half a mile from my door to the track at the middle school. Then it’s either 400 yards or 400 meters around the football field, I don’t remember. It’s so confusing to have different measures. Is a mile four laps, or four laps plus nine meters, or four laps plus a hundred something yards?
Speaking of which, remember cubits? Genesis 6, the ark, 300 cubits x 50 x 30. According to Bill Cosby* not even God remembers what a cubit is.
*If you have not heard his Noah routine from 1964, I recommend checking it out. You can find it on youtube.
Also, what reason did the Lord give for the flood?
He saw mankind’s great wickedness,
their evil hearts and inclinations.
They were based not on God but on themselves, self-reliant.
And God provides for the saving of Noah and family if they will rely on God. It’s a theme throughout the Old Testament: rely on God, it goes well.  Deviate from God, and it doesn’t.
• A cubit equals about 18 inches, or elbow to fingertips. Not real exact. An inch is about thumb-width, or the middle joint of index finger… 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, six feet in a fathom, 15 1/2 or 16 feet in a rod...
Some 300 years ago a more standard measure was made, the meter. Initially defined as the length of a pendulum that takes one second to swing side to side, the meter was defined in 1793 to be one ten-millionth the distance from the equator to the North Pole. Walk a straight line, divide by ten million… one meter.
I think it’s a good measure because it’s not based on me, my arm/hand/foot.
Based on something bigger and more universal.
Today’s reading from James: self-reliance puts you above God. Don’t slander your brother or set yourself above the law, but instead position yourself in submission to God, to the law, with your brother next to you. Don’t build your life on a foundation of you and your self-assuredness, build your life on a foundation of God.
Measure yourself by God.
• Tuesday is 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses. His goal: examine contemporary practices and see whether they’re built on God’s word or not (he claimed not).
And he sought to realign the practice of faith with God’s word.
Translated the Bible into the common language from the original languages so that discipleship could be in the hands of the people.
Also made the worship service in the language of the people, also educate the people.
• And later that’s what the Wesleys did, seek to draw the Church into better alignment with God, into Bible-based faith practice, seek to measure own life by God.
• I want to know when I’m off track.

• Hymn: (of Charles Wesley): I Want a Principle Within

James 4:11-17 (CEB)
11 Brothers and sisters, don’t say evil things about each other. Whoever insults or criticizes a brother or sister insults and criticizes the Law. If you find fault with the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge over it. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, and he is able to save and to destroy. But you who judge your neighbor, who are you?
13 Pay attention, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a town. We will stay there a year, buying and selling, and making a profit.” 14 You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes. 15 Here’s what you ought to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast and brag, and all such boasting is evil. 
17 It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.ò

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (CEB)

2 As you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, our visit with you wasn’t a waste of time. 2 On the contrary, we had the courage through God to speak God’s good news in spite of a lot of opposition, although we had already suffered and were publicly insulted in Philippi, as you know. 3 Our appeal isn’t based on false information, the wrong motives, or deception. 4 Rather, we have been examined and approved by God to be trusted with the good news, and that’s exactly how we speak. We aren’t trying to please people, but we are trying to please God, who continues to examine our hearts. 5 As you know, we never used flattery, and God is our witness that we didn’t have greedy motives. 6 We didn’t ask for special treatment from people—not from you or from others—7 although we could have thrown our weight around as Christ’s apostles. Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. 8 We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much. ò

Sunday, October 22, 2017

How Do I Get There?

• Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 4:1-10  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk
This sermon viewable on youtube at 
• In my first year of ministry I took a youth group on a ski trip. On the way home, driving the van in the dark, I knew I knew a better way home than the printed ski resort directions. My own inner pride lead to trouble as I turned a 40-minute drive into two hours, inconveniencing awaiting parents as well as a group that needed to be picked up from the airport in the van I was still using.
• On “friendship with the world” (from James 4:4)
Ross King wrote a song called Clear the Stage.
(click here for lyrics) (click here for youtube)
“Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.”
• James 4:7 “Submit yourself to God.”
How shall we submit ourselves to God?
For one, refer to the instructions. Frequently.
And don’t try to go it alone!
The fourth and fifth step of AA include making a list of personal failings AND THEN admitting them to another person.
Why? Because of the power in saying something out loud to another.
• John and Charles Wesley, young in ministry, 1720s, holiness clubs
Imagine living these questions:
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
(click here for more: Five small group questions and 21 smallergroup questions)

• Hymn 399 Take My Life and Let It Be

James 4:1-10 (CEB) (formatting by KWB)
4 What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your own cravings that are at war in your own lives? 
2 You long for something you don’t have,  so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get,  so you struggle and fight. You don’t have  because you don’t ask3 And then you ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste on your own cravings. 4 You adulterous, unfaithful people!
Don’t you know that “friendship with the world” means hostility toward God? It means that whoever puts the world before God becomes God's enemy. 5 Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God eagerly long for our faithfulness in the fullness of life he has given to us? 6 But still, God gives us even more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. [Prov. 3:34] 

7 Therefore, submit yourself humbly to God.
Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.
8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners.
Purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Cry out in sorrow -- mourn, and weep!
Let your laughter become mourning 
and your joy become sadness.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 3:13-18  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• Sometimes you read something again for the first time,
do you know what I mean?
The list of attributes in James 3:17
has been that way for me for several weeks.
But the wisdom from above is first pure,
   then peaceable and gentle, and willing to yield,
   full of mercy and good fruits,
   and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
And I’m not sure I’ll ever “get there” as a disciple – I’ll never get so good as a disciple that I can stop growing,
and where I am now, that’s okay.
• When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When did you know? Did you become that?
PK’s story.  My teaching morphed from classroom and subject  to church and theology and life. Wanting to share with others what I love.
• “Who is wise? Show by your life that your works are done
with gentleness born of wisdom.” (James 3:13)
This passage reminds me of a phrase from the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you’re ready to take certain steps.
What do we want in life?
Wholeness. Belonging. Security.
Wisdom. We want it to go well for our children.
We are willing to order our lives (show by your life) to bring these things about.
We order our lives by Gentleness/humility born of wisdom.
• Wisdom from above is pure, peaceable and gentle…
These have to do with our relationship to others. 
Three points:
1   We are in relationship with others.
2.1     Consideration for others is the highest virtue
2.2     Imposition of self is the lowest.
3.       The fruit/harvest of considering others is peace.
• Well for our kids, but how about for us now?
 Opportunity. Meaning. Connection. Service. Through congregation

• Hymn  600 Wonderful Words of Life

James 3:13-18 (NRSV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you?
   Show by your good life that your works are done
      with gentleness born of wisdom. 
14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your
   hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 
15 Such wisdom does not come down from above,
   but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 
16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there
   will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure,
   then peaceable and gentle, and willing to yield,
   full of mercy and good fruits,
   and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace
   for those who make peace.

Colossians 2:2-3, 6-7 (NRSV)
2 I want [all] hearts to be encouraged and united in love,
so that [all people] may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, 3 in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. …

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Give Feet to Faith

• Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 2:14-26  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

This sermon will be on youtube at

• Heartbreaking week in news,
and so much media focus on the wrong things.
Which should motivate people more:
people dying after disasters
or football players kneeling?
Visiting preachers at Marshall University this past week, shouting through megaphones that people are going to hell because of a variety of things.
My friend’s church which was vandalized
after it put up a rainbow flag.
These and other events lead me to ask:
• What is my job? What is our job?
To share the love of God with people in a hurting world.
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Be witnesses in every aspect. Make disciples (be one first).
Be imitators of God, and walk in love, as Christ first loved us and gave himself up as a sacrifice for us. – Eph 5:1-2
• In a section in James on treating other people well, with dignity and humankindness, you do what you can  to demonstrate your love  by how you treat people.
And how I treat people depends not on their worthiness
OR whether I think they’re doing a good job or not.
How I treat people depends on my view of their humanity,
And my prayer is that my vision is like that of Jesus (be imitators…)
• And that my actions be motivated by my God….
and that when I see suffering, I act for relief.
And when I see injustice, I act for justice. 
And oppression, righteousness.
And abuse of power, I speak truth to it.
• The man asked God Why is there so much suffering in the world?
And God replied I was just going to ask you the same thing.
• Jesus is WYSIWYG.
God demonstrates his love for us in this way,
that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
Jesus gave of himself completely for us,
became one of us, becomes part of us.

• Hymn  618 Let Us Break Bread Together

James 2:14-26 (CEB)
14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. 19 It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. 20 Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all? 21 What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. 23 So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. [Gen 15:6]
What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend. 24 So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? 26 As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.