Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Attitude of Jesus Christ- We Are His Body (Philippians 2:1-11)


Philippians 2:1-11

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


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Is being a disciple of Jesus about faith, or is being a disciple of Jesus about attitude and character?

As United Methodists we say its both! 

For those of us who have experienced the grace and love of God in Jesus, our hearts have been changed by the power of God. An experience of the grace and love of God can really change a person’s outlook on life and their thoughts about themselves and others, right?

As we continue into this current worship series called Personal Mission Field, I’d like for us to take a moment to consider the nature of the Church.
We all know the church is not the building, the church is not the steeple, the church is not a resting place, THE CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE!

Yes, the Church is the community of people whose lives have been impacted by the grace and love of God and in experiencing the invitation of Jesus who speaks into our hearts “come, follow me and be my disciple,” we say YES, Jesus; I will follow you. Yes Jesus, I will be your disciple.

The Apostle Paul calls the Church the Body of Jesus Christ, meaning that we are to embody the presence of Jesus Christ in this world together.
Recall that to his disciples Jesus says, “come, follow me and be my disciple.”

Now, a disciple is someone who learns from the master. A disciple of Jesus is one who is dedicated to learning from Jesus. In the Gospel accounts we read that after spending three years as students of Jesus, Jesus commissions and sends his disciples saying to them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

One of the ways that we live as witnesses for Jesus is by embodying his humble attitude in our lives.

I found this video of a Track and Field race that I believe is a great example of what it can look like to embody the humble attitude of Jesus Christ. I invite you to watch it with me now.



God's light shines more brilliantly through our lives when we humbly yet powerfully help others along life’s way instead of blowing right past them to take the prize for ourselves alone. 

Every victory for the Kingdom of God is a shared victory.

The greatest is the servant to everyone else. Jesus said it. Jesus lived it in his humble service to others and through his humble death on the cross.

Let us pray that the inward changes that the Spirit of God is bringing about within us should be reflected in our living. It certainly was for Jesus.

As we pray that by the grace of God we might grow to embody the humble attitude of Jesus Christ, considering others as more important than ourselves whether they be homeless, drug addicted, mentally and emotionally challenged, or immigrants…the action step for all of us is to take a moment each day this week to sing or pray the song that we are about to sing that is called More Like You. It’s number 2167 in the black hymnal which is titled The Faith We Sing and its printed below so each of us can print it out, copy it and display it somewhere on our computer or phone where we’ll remember to sing it or pray it every day this week as we take our next steps as disciples of Jesus to serve as Christ’s witnesses in this world.

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More like you, Jesus more like you, fill my heart with your desires and make me more like you. More like you, Jesus more like you, touch my lips with holy fire and make me more like you. Lord you are my mercy, Lord you are my grace, all my deepest sins have forever been erased. Draw me into your presence, lead me in your ways, I long to bring you glory, in righteousness and praise. (TFWS 2167)


Sunday, July 7, 2019

We all have a story to tell (Acts 9:1-19)


Acts 9:1-19

Saul (Paul) was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

3As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

5“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

10Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

11The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

13“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

15But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

17So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

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Paul had an AMAZING story of how God had impacted his life! He literally heard the voice of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus!
I think there are many of us who long for an experience like that…like Paul’s road to Damascus experience (without the blinding of course!), or of like Peter’s walking on the water experience, or like Peter, James, and John’s montaintop experience, or like the experience of meeting Jesus had by those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Or an experience like the one had by Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb; the first person to be greeted by the risen Christ!

I think we all want some kind of profound God experience like these. I also think that sometimes we may feel a bit disappointed when all we get is something like what the initiator of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, experienced…a heart strangely warmed.

Or maybe you haven’t even experienced that! Maybe there are some of us here who have been given incredible God moments and maybe there are some of us here who feel like our story lacks that impact.

One of the things we should take away from all of those who have authored the stories in the Bible, including but not limited to Paul’s story that we have heard today, is that their lives were impacted by the love of God in Jesus, they realized that they had a story to tell for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and they told that story so others could be inspired to follow Jesus too.

For me it was my parents and my church family when I was young. 

For me it was Jim who gave me my first Bible when I was in my first year of college and invited me to read it and study its pages with him. I came to understand through his teaching me that the grace of God in Jesus was not to be worked for but to be welcomed with an open heart and mind.

For me it was Amy who gave me my first opportunity to lead others into a deeper relationship with God through experiences in the outdoors.

For me my heart strangely warmed by the Holy Spirit has been a lifelong experience in that the more I come to know about the love of God in Jesus the more the Spirit of God sets my heart ablaze with love for all that has life!

For me it’s bearing witness to the way that this church welcomes all who come to worship with us and in that way embody the love of God in Jesus.
We all have a story to tell. As surely as our lives have been impacted by the love of God in Jesus, each and every one of us has a story to tell.

Not only do we have a story to tell, but it is of critical importance that we tell it to those who have yet to know the fullness of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

What is our vision church?

God has given us a vision to see all people Giving, Praising, and Serving in love for Christ; in Wellsboro, throughout the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, and all around the world. 

It has to start with each of us living into this vision through our worship, as each of us worship’s God each day;

Giving our hearts to the changes that God would make within us…

Praising God for the gifts we have received in Jesus…

Serving our neighbors in our love for God as we work for peace and justice in Jesus’ name.

Yes we are people who are about Giving, Praising, and Serving in love for Jesus Christ…

And if this vision of worship is to expand beyond the walls of this building we’ve got to go forth in Jesus’ name to tell our stories of how God has impacted our lives in Wellsboro, throughout the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, and all around the world.

We’ve got to take that next bold step and share our story of how God has impacted our lives in the context of our Personal Mission Field. We all have a personal mission field; our Personal Mission Field is the people we hang with and the places we go that are not “church.”

You know what I say? I say let’s start with the campgrounds at Hills Creek State Park and Ives Run Recreation Area. As each of us considers what our Personal Mission Field consists of let’s approach the Summer Worship Experiences at Hills Creek and Ives Run as the Personal Mission Field training grounds.

I’d love to spend time with each and every one of you at one of these locations at least once during the months of July and August so you can watch and learn how I connect with people for Jesus in the campground and how I share my story of how the love of God in Jesus has impacted my life in that context. 

I’d love the opportunity to mentor many of you to become disciples of Jesus who inspire others to become disciples of Jesus too.

Yes, the campgrounds at Ives Run Recreation Area and Hills Creek State Park are our Personal Mission Field Training Grounds for the summer. This will be an experience of growth and renewal for our church, and for myself included.

Since I care so much about each of us growing to consider how we might share our stories of how God has impacted our lives in our Personal Mission Field I’m making it my commitment to touch base with everyone who is listed in our United Methodist Church of Wellsboro directory; to help you consider how to share your story, and to help you gain clarity on how you might invest in your Personal Mission Field for Jesus.

So, here are two questions to be considering:

How has the love of God in Jesus impacted my life? What’s my story?

And

What are the places I go and who are the people I spend time with that are not “church”? What is my Personal Mission Field?