May 13, 2018
The Ascension – A Holiday Wanna-Be
Series: Risen

The Ascension                                                                      Acts 1:6-11

A Holiday Wanna-Be

Have you ever awoke on a Monday and said, “Praise God for the Ascension?” The Ascension seems to be an obscure holiday sandwiched in between Easter and Pentecost. The Ascension didn’t make the big three; Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Yet, the Ascension is the day we celebrate Jesus ultimately transcending the earth and affirming that Jesus is lord.
In the midst of mess, chaos, division, mass shooting, threats of war, racial injustice, human trafficking, we as Christians boldly proclaim Jesus is still lord!  Thank God for the Ascension!
 
*The Ascension refers to the day celebrated 40 days after Easter when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus returns to God after being with his disciples after the resurrection.
 
Reflect on... 1) How does knowing “Jesus is Lord” ease your anxiety / fear? 2) What difference does “Jesus is Lord” make on Monday?
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  • May 13, 2018The Ascension – A Holiday Wanna-Be
    May 13, 2018
    The Ascension – A Holiday Wanna-Be
    Series: Risen

    The Ascension                                                                      Acts 1:6-11

    A Holiday Wanna-Be

    Have you ever awoke on a Monday and said, “Praise God for the Ascension?” The Ascension seems to be an obscure holiday sandwiched in between Easter and Pentecost. The Ascension didn’t make the big three; Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Yet, the Ascension is the day we celebrate Jesus ultimately transcending the earth and affirming that Jesus is lord.
    In the midst of mess, chaos, division, mass shooting, threats of war, racial injustice, human trafficking, we as Christians boldly proclaim Jesus is still lord!  Thank God for the Ascension!
     
    *The Ascension refers to the day celebrated 40 days after Easter when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus returns to God after being with his disciples after the resurrection.
     
    Reflect on... 1) How does knowing “Jesus is Lord” ease your anxiety / fear? 2) What difference does “Jesus is Lord” make on Monday?
  • May 8, 2018Risen: To Tell the Truth
    May 8, 2018
    Risen: To Tell the Truth
    Series: Risen

    Risen: To Tell the Truth                                                 Acts 1:1-8

     Be a Witness

    It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

    Francis of Assisi

     
    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="197"] Risen - To Tell the Truth[/caption] Some of Jesus' last words are a charge for disciples to be witnesses.  As Methodist, we are great practical witnesses.  By that I mean we do great works, social programs, mission projects, etc.  As Methodist, we are great verbal atheists.  By that I mean we are very willing to give the cup of water but not so willing to name the name of Jesus.
     
    I know it is critically important to put our faith in action, faith without works is dead.
     
    I know it is critically important that our actions are in line with what we profess.
     
    At the same time, I have yet to hear a testimony that someone became a Christian because you have an Icthus (the fish symbol) on the back of your car and they were overwhelmed by your tremendous Christian driving.  🙂
     
    Jesus charged His disciples to proclaim the truth they beheld.
     
    Christianity is always only one generation away from extinction.
     
    INCARNATION - God becoming human in Jesus Christ.
     
    CRUCIFIXION - Jesus dying on the cross so we can be forgiven of all sins.

    RESURRECTION - Jesus raised from the dead so we have eternal life and can live today as God’s people.

    Faith is personal.  Faith is not private.

    Reflect on... (These are from Bishop Lowry’s Study on Acts - “Acting Boldly”)
    1) With whom have you shared your faith (recently or ever)?
    2) Where is your Jerusalem (immediate community), your Judea (neighbors), your Samaria (those with whom you disagree)?
     
     

    While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.

    Francis of Assisi

  • Apr 29, 2018Risen – When It Gets Personal
    Apr 29, 2018
    Risen – When It Gets Personal
    Series: Risen

    Risen: When It Gets Personal                                    John 21:15-17

    Peter, feed my sheep

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="190"]Peter, feed my sheep. Risen: When It Gets Personal[/caption]

    Jesus and the disciples enjoy a breakfast of fish.  Then Jesus gets personal with Peter and presses him, "Do you love Me?"  Jesus asks this question three times.  Perhaps it is an opportunity for Peter to redeem himself after denying Jesus three times - or maybe it is more.

     
    Peter does not answer Jesus' question the way we think and the way the English translation puts it.  He is struggling to confess that he loves Jesus unconditionally.  Peter is honest in his response.
     
    And Jesus willing to meet Peter where he is.
     
    Though we are new creatures because of the power of the resurrections - we still have our doubts, our struggles and thankfully Jesus meets us wherever we are on the journey.
     
    Peter denied Jesus 3 times and the rooster crowed.  Do you have roosters, in your mind, that need to be silenced.
     
    When are times you have been “fond” of Jesus?
     
    How might be/is Jesus calling you beyond fondness to agape (unconditional love)?
     
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  • Apr 22, 2018Risen – I Doubt It!
    Apr 22, 2018
    Risen – I Doubt It!
    Series: Risen

    Risen - I Doubt It!                             John 20:24-29

    Jesus appears to Thomas and the disciples

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="184"] Risen - I Doubt It[/caption] Jesus previously had appeared to the disciples but Thomas was missing. Thomas does not doubts their claim that Jesus is alive and appeared to them.  He wants to see it for himself.  This one little doubt earned him the nickname "Doubting Thomas."  Was it undeserved?  He simply wanted the same experience of seeing Jesus for himself that the others had instead of merely relying on their testimony.  After all, they were fishermen and a tax collector - not the most credible group.  Fishermen do like to tell their tall tales!
    Unlike the others, once Thomas sees Jesus, he makes a great confession of faith. Verse 28 reads, Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
    Could it be that doubt is not the anti-thesis of faith but can lead to a deeper faith?  To be called a doubting Thomas may not necessarily be a criticism, it may indeed be a compliment.
    Church tradition and history tells us that Thomas traveled outside of the Roman Empire as a missionary, possibly as far away as India to preach the gospel, which is yet another indication of Thomas’ boldness. He may have reached Muziris, India where he baptized several believers and was possibly the first to bring the gospel to the Far East. This might explain why he is considered the Patron Saint of India. His name in the Indian language, “Thoma,” remains quite popular to this day in India.

    Doubt + Belief = FAITH

    Reflect on...
    1)  Think about a time you experienced a period of doubting or a faith crisis.
    2)  How can/will you use this period of doubting to lead you to a deeper faith?
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  • Apr 15, 2018Risen – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
    Apr 15, 2018
    Risen – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
    Series: Risen

    Risen - Surprise, Surprise, Surprise 

    John 21:1-14

     Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

    Jesus had instructed his disciples to move to Galilee where he would again appear to them. While they were waiting, Peter decided to go fishing on lake Galilee with some of the other disciples. After a fruitless night of Jesus stood on the shore, calling out to them to cast their nets to the right side of the boat. Encircling a large school of fish the disciples recognize Jesus and head for shore with their catch. Jesus already has breakfast underway and together they share in a meal of bread and fish.

     
    Questions to reflect on:  Why are the disciples fishing back in Galilee after having been commissioned by Jesus and having received the Spirit? Why don't they recognize him after having seen him more than once at this point? Why is this called the third appearance of Jesus when there were already three appearances in chapter 20? If the Gospel has prepared the disciples for the time of Jesus' absence and has come to a climax with a blessing on those who have believed without having seen, what place is there for these further stories about Jesus' presence? 
     
     
     
  • Apr 8, 2018Risen – Emmaus Walk
    Apr 8, 2018
    Risen – Emmaus Walk
    Series: Risen

    Walk to Emmaus                                              Ephesians 5:15-17

    The Walk to Emmaus is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders. The Walk to Emmaus is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders. The program's approach seriously considers the model of Christ's servanthood and encourages Christ's disciples to act in ways appropriate to being "a servant of all." The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with a 72-hour short course in Christianity, comprised of fifteen talks by lay and clergy on the themes of God's grace, disciplines of Christian discipleship, and what it means to be the church. The course is wrapped in prayer and meditation, special times of worship and daily celebration of Holy Communion. The "Emmaus community," made up of those who have attended an Emmaus weekend, support the 72-hour experience with a prayer vigil, by preparing and serving meals, and other acts of love and self-giving. The Emmaus Walk typically begins Thursday evening and concludes Sunday evening. Men and women attend separate weekends. During and after the three days, Emmaus leaders encourage participants to meet regularly in small groups. The members of the small groups challenge and support one another in faithful living. Participants seek to Christianize their environments of family, job, and community through the ministry of their congregations. The three-day Emmaus experience and follow-up groups strengthen and renew Christian people as disciples of Jesus Christ and as active members of the body of Christ in mission to the world.  
    Reprinted from The Upper Room® website. Used with permission.
     
    For information about the Emmaus community at Belton FUMC, click the link.   Emmaus
  • Apr 1, 2018Risen – Easter
    Apr 1, 2018
    Risen – Easter
    Series: Risen

    RISEN - Easter Luke 24:1-11

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="148"] Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter. The great news of the resurrection is boldly proclaimed by the women to the male apostles.  The men do not believe this incredible news. He is RISEN![/caption]

    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.

    The great news of the resurrection is boldly proclaimed by the women to the male apostles. The men do not believe this incredible news.
     
     
    "Their news struck the apostles as nonsense..." (v. 11)
     
     
    Perhaps they were waiting for the women to say, "April Fool!"
     
    Of course, the resurrection is no April fool - well accept to those who conspired against Jesus; to those who condemned Jesus; and to those who crucified Jesus; and thought that was the end of Jesus.
     
    On this side of the empty tomb it seems obvious that the news of the resurrection is not nonsense.
     
    Yet, Easter is still hard to believe.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe that we can overcome our past.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe we can break free.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe things can change.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.
     

    When has it been hard for you to believe in Easter?

    How has meeting the risen Christ changed your life?

     
    For more sermons click here.
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