Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lent2: Rehab: Intervention

• Second Sunday of Lent
with Mark 8:31-38    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon was broadcast on Facebook Live 2/25/18 and can also be found by itself at
#rehab #intervention #umcgbod #lent

• Lent is a 40 day season of spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration.
This season we’ll be following the lectionary and the denomination’s suggestion for a sermon series called REHAB. Why REHAB? As a part of our spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration. Last week talked about the need to follow Jesus into the wilderness of rehab, open to the possibility that in the prayer, fasting, self-denial of the desert, and even in the face of pain, discomfort, and suffering, God can be working in us, God may in fact need the focus of the desert for us to be positioned for healing.
• I’ve participated in a 12-step program for a few years – this’ll come up more than once in a series called “rehab”, so bear with me. “You can’t get better unless you admit that you have a problem,” and part of recovery is rigorous honesty with self. Sometimes you need to talk to your sponsor, to interrupt your stinking thinking.
Sometimes you need intervention, which quite literally means “coming between”.
• Today’s scripture readings include intervention stories, interrupt-my-thinking stories.
Isaiah 64 is practically a plea to God to break into the fabric of our lives because we’re messed up and we need saved! And after gaining the disciples’ trust Jesus tells them the plan which includes walking into the fire, Peter thinks he knows better, Peter tries to tell Jesus otherwise, and Jesus interrupts Peter’s thinking. Get behind me, Satan! Whoa!
Peter’s thinking of self-preservation, in the guise of thinking about Jesus’ safety.
Trying to preserve self we deny need for savior and decline savior’s ability to save.
Jesus: if you’re not with me you’re against me, and I want you with me! To follow me is to embrace self-denial, to pick up cross. You cannot follow me AND set the course for your recovery: you set the course for your recovery BY following me, letting ME and the Holy Spirit identify your stinking thinking and then letting me and the HS set the course for your recovery.
• Recovery is not easy. It is relinquishing control,
BUT/AND it is putting self in the hands of who?
of the one who knows you best, loves you best, literally died for you.
& if we cannot / will not / do not admit that we are stuck in sin we will DIE in sin.
• THE GOOD NEWS is that when we are in Christ, pain and suffering and even death no longer have dominion over us. Jesus took that stuff to the cross and to the tomb – it wasn’t easy for him and it isn’t easy for us but it is through that love that we emerge in recovery.
• And again, we do not go alone. Christ goes before us, and Holy Spirit goes with us in our caregivers and fellow disciples in recovery.
• Woman walking down the road, fell into a pit. Could not get out. Called out for help. [some people pass by and offer advice, even prayer]. Another woman comes along and jumps down into pit. Why?! Now we’re both stuck here! No, says second woman. I know how to get out, see I’ve been in this pit before.
• So it is with Christ, and so recovery. Through intervention we get rid of stinking thinking and get in position for God to work in us.
• What thinking might you be clinging to that comes between you and Lord?
Pray for interrupted thinking, plus courage to pick up cross and follow Jesus.

• May God use this time of Lent to shape us into disciples and witnesses to God’s kingdom.

• Hymn 373 Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior

Mark 8:31-38 (HCSB)       
31 Then Jesus began to teach the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. 32 He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
33 But turning around and looking at His disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”

34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, Jesus said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? 37 What can a man give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” ò

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lent1: Rehab: Wilderness

First Sunday of Lent
with Mark 1:2-9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon was broadcast on Facebook Live 2/18/18
#rehab #wilderness #umcgbod #lent

• Lent is a 40 day season of spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration inspired by Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness we read in Mark 1.
This season we’ll be following the lectionary and the denomination’s suggestion for a sermon series called REHAB. Why REHAB? As a part of our spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration.
• Rehab covers a lot of things. Rehab for addiction to drugs or alcohol. Also rehab after knee replacement or heart attack. Likely a painful time with drastic change of behavior. Not exactly something to look forward to, but something to endure. Rehab begins by going into the wilderness, by following Jesus into the wilderness.
• Wilderness is not a bad thing. It’s a new thing, a thing that involves change.
Some of my wildernesses: moving to Pennsylvania from Iowa.
Having knee surgery. Dealing with grief. Dealing with personal substance abuse.
Wilderness not a bad thing but not a comfortable thing, a place where discipline is necessary, and trust that you’re not alone and that not only is God with you but God is willing and able to work in you to shape you mold you prune you prepare you.
• We do not go into the wilderness alone. And it is in the wilderness that the first steps of reconciliation and healing and wholeness are taken.
• Jesus’ time in the wilderness prepared him for his mission to bring reconciliation and healing and wholeness to humankind. And when his time in the wilderness was complete, he began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God, and of repentance.

Where are you feeling in the wilderness?
Pour yourself into this time with self examination and prayer and fasting and self-denial. These are some of the tools God uses. And come and worship and be made new.

• May God use this time of Lent to shape us into disciples and witnesses to God’s kingdom.

• Hymn 338 Where He Leads Me

Mark 1:9-15 (HCSB)
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove.
11 And a voice came from heaven:
You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You!
12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan.
He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God:
15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe in the good news!

1 Peter 3:18-22 (HCSB)
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him. ò

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Miracles and Maturity

• Transfiguration Sunday
with Mark 9:2-9  and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here:

I’m re-reading a favorite book lately, savoring the taste. It’s the 2001 debut novel by Leif Enger Peace Like A River, name from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul, and I think of it every time Transfiguration Sunday comes around.
How is it with your soul, by the way?
Miracles are disturbing. Every miracle requires a witness.
read excerpts:
“Let me say something about that word: miracle. For too long it's been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week--a miracle, people say, as if they've been educated from greeting cards.” 
“Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave - now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.”
“No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.” 
How then is it that at the transfiguration Jesus says Don’t tell til later?
It was not an opportune time.
Peter wasn’t ready.
Peter had some maturing to do.
Peter was eager, but impulsive and not seasoned.
• Yesterday I participated in a workshop having to do with maturing disciples. From membership to discipleship. In our biblical narrative, Peter goes from eager to Peter empowered. How? By spending time with Jesus & others, by setting self aside, by working and serving.
• What do people want from church as they mature? More relationship with Jesus, more Bible understanding, more challenge, more opportunity to serve (and give!)
Christianity is not something you graduate!
As Christian maturity increases, so humility and hunger for God increase.
• 2 Cor 4:5 We are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ,
and we are your servants because of him.
• To make [maturing] disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As Peter needed to mature so we do.
Lenten reflection and discipline for spiritual growth: Pray, fast, listen, respond.
• Because of the gift of Jesus, the love of Jesus.
• Hymn 172 My Jesus I Love Thee

Mark 9:2-9 (HCSB) 
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, 3 and His clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified.
7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud:
     This is My beloved Son; listen to Him!
8 Then suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. ò

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (HCSB)

3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glorious Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. ò