PC 24-26 Zorro In His Cave

PC-24-26-Zorro

This is Holy Week. Easter is coming which means as a pastor I am so busy this week I won’t be able to see straight. That being said, my personal doodle time will be at a premium. With that in mind I made it a point to pick up ink for my brush pen so I could finish the next installment in my fox Zorro little mini story. Today we see El Zorro mounted atop his trusted steed Toronado a.k.a. my take on the Road Runner. I hope you enjoy it, and keep checking back for the next installment.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

PC 23 Captain America as Thor

PC-23-Captain-America-As-ThIn one of the Avengers:Age of Ultron trailers the Avengers are all sitting around having a contest to see if anyone can lift Thor’s hammer. Only one of the Avengers is able to make the hammer wiggle. That character is Captain America. What if Captain America were able to lift the hammer. What might that look like?

Y’all have fun,
Richard

Rebellious Discipleship

Sermon Script: Luke 9:18-27
Sermon Purpose: Either we are disciples of Jesus Christ or else we’re just volunteers.
Sermon Title: Rebellious Disciples

There are a number of theories out there about which sin is the root of all evil. Some have argued money is the root of all evil. Others have offered vanity as the root of all evil. While still others have argued for avarice or the desire to have more of whatever it is we don’t feel like we have enough. I think the root of all evil is pride. Pride led Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve wanted it. They felt themselves capable of handling it. So they took fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Pride led Adam and Eve to destroy themselves and all of creation. It was Adam and Eve’s pride which introduced sin into the world and we have nurtured sin, and its result – evil, ever since. The difference is now the Son of God has come. Jesus Christ was born into the world like one of us. Jesus Christ grew up, lived, and worked like one of us. The Christ died like one of us, and on that bright Easter morning we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Rest assured sisters and brothers Sunday’s coming. Amen? Amen. Amen?! Amen! But until then we have a choice to make. What will we allow to have dominion over our lives? Will we be ruled by our selfish pride, or will we be ruled by the love of God?

In this morning’s passage Jesus asks the disciples who the disciples think Jesus really is, and it is Peter who answers, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). That sounds like a fine and good thing to say so long as the Christ is a conquering king like king David. Surely the Christ will conquer all and as His disciples we will sit at Christ’s side. Like fruit hanging from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it is so tempting to think this way. It is so tempting to think we deserve or are entitled to what Christ is offering. But then Jesus flips things around as Jesus often does. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22). Jesus is telling them their conquering king Messiah is going to be rejected and killed. Wait a sec. How are we to gain that wonderful position if the Christ is going to be killed? There is not much to like about that statement. How are we going to be princes, or nobles over the world if the king is going to be rejected and die? That’s not how it works. Conquering kings conquer and those who travel with them take a share of the spoil. Jesus just said Jesus is not going to win. Jesus just said He is going to die.

Then Jesus goes further, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23,24). It should become clear Jesus is talking about giving something up. Jesus is talking about living a sacrificial life. Jesus has just told the disciples He is going to suffer, be rejected, and die. Now Jesus is telling the disciples anyone who wants to follow Jesus – anyone who wants to follow in the dust of the rabbi, Jesus Christ, must be willing to reset their priorities. True disciples of Jesus have to rearrange their commitments. Rebellious disciples of Jesus Christ put Jesus first above entertainment, above spending time with friends, above relatives, above mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and spouses (Luke 14:25-27). Rebellious disciples stand out against what this world says is important and puts Jesus Christ first. Of course Christ does not want us turn away from family and friends. However, Jesus is saying our rebellious allegiance to Christ must take center stage over all of our other relationships.

What separates run of the mill discipleship from rebellious discipleship is something more than being more diligent or disciplined. Run of the mill disciples can read their Bible, and give their tithe, and mumble through a few songs on Sunday morning. Run of the mill disciples come and help out at church when it’s convenient. We often talk about the church as being filled with volunteers who give of their time. Nobody here except the pastor, Kay and April are on staff. Everyone else gives out of their free time. I have run with this idea as the church being filled with volunteers for years now. Even going back to when I was one of those volunteers. Which is why I was startled when I read in Mike Slaughter’s book “Rebel Gospel: Renegade Jesus” that there is a difference between a volunteer and being a disciple. Volunteers give when it is convenient. Disciples give of themselves sacrificially.[1] Disciples look at their finances and give up things to be able to serve God. Disciples look at the way they spend their time and give up things to better serve God by serving others. Disciples give of themselves sacrificially where volunteers give of themselves when it’s convenient. Sisters and brothers true discipleship is a rebellious idea.

Let us be rebellious together. Let us set aside our pride, and our efforts to feel better about ourselves in this world by looking for comfort in our identity with Christ. It cannot be enough for us to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We must be willing to get up off of our pews and follow Jesus out side of those doors. Let us not hesitate. Let us not ask what’s in it for me? Let’s do what the disciples did. When Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon and Andrew tending their nets Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). When Jesus saw Levi sitting at his tax collectors booth Jesus simply said, “Follow me” (Luke 5:27). They did not hesitate. They did not stop to ask about where they would live or what they would eat. They simply went. They rebelled against what the world said was important and followed Jesus without question.

Now, here’s the part you might not expect. When we follow Jesus rebelliously it affects the way we see and do everything. Imagine how different our lives would be if we worked our jobs as if we were working for Jesus instead of just working for a pay check? Imagine how different our lives would be if we did our school work for Jesus instead of for a grade? Imagine if we cared for our families as if we were caring for Jesus? Imagine what it would be like if we went out and spoke to new people and invited them to church as if we were doing it for Jesus and not just to bringing our attendance numbers up. What would it look like if we if we were serving Jesus by the way we spent our money? How might worship become fuller and more rich if we shifted our focus away from the style of worship we like, or the style of worship we’ve always had to being focused on what is most pleasing to Jesus? However, the Holy Spirit encourages us to shift our focus this much is certain. We have to be willing to put God first for the rest of our lives to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. I love this quote written by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from a Birmingham jail cell.

“If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose it authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”[2]

Sisters and brothers if we would recapture that sacrificial spirit to become rebellious disciples of Jesus Christ we must lay aside our pride and rediscover for ourselves and for our church what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

[1] Mike Slaughter, RENEGADE GOSPEL: The Rebel Jesus, (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House 2014) 103.

[2] Ibid., 112

The Big Day

In case you didn’t already see it on my Facebook page this week I had a very important interview with the Western North Carolina Board of Ordained Ministry (a.k.a. The BoOM). It’s a big deal. I interviewed Thursday afternoon and found out about 4:15 that I was approved to move forward to be a Provisional Candidate for ordained ministry. My doodles this week said a lot about what I was feeling.

PC-21-Legend-of-Zelda

This was Tuesday afternoon. The stress suddenly hit me and I was scared that appearing before the BoOM would feel like Link from the Legend of Zelda throwing down against some really big nasty something or other.

PC-22-GhandiWednesday morning I was trying to find that Peaceful Easy Feeling, or a moment of Zen before I appeared before the BoOM. This is the doodle that came out of searching for that peace.

PC-23-I-PassedIn case you missed it I passed and was approved to move forward. This is my happy dance doodle.

I hope you enjoyed these. They all fit within my personal challenge of 30 characters with that same basic head shape. These take me up to number 22. Eight more to go.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

PC 20 Thor

PC-20-Thor

Time to draw back and punt. With my brush pen out of ink, and a stressful week in front of me I give you Thor inked with a Pentel Micron .04 ball point pen. Besides, it’s St. Patty’s Day. It seems only fitting to post a Norse God on St. Patty’s Day.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

“Rebellious Thoughts”

Nunavut_plate

Sorry I did not get this posted Sunday, but here is Sunday’s sermon anyway. It was a busy start to my work week.

Sermon Script: Ephesians 2:1-10; 5:14: John 12:21
Sermon Purpose: If we want to see Jesus we have to wake up to accept the Son’s grace which shines like the bright summer dawn on the hard frozenness of our spiritual slumber.
Sermon Title: “Rebellious Thoughts”

Some of you are aware I am big fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. In the Magician’s Nephew the boy Diggory and the girl Polly accidentally wake up a terrible witch; the queen Jadice. As Jadice was quickly leading the children out of her ruined palace she told them things about the place she wanted the children to know.

“This was the old banqueting hall where my great grandfather bade several hundred nobles to a feast and killed them all before they had drunk their fill… They had rebellious thoughts.”[1]

I wonder church. Do we have rebellious thoughts?

Sisters and brothers, have you ever considered this world is controlled and ruled by the sons of disobedience who march lock step behind the prince of the power of the air. To be clear, I am not talking about specific political leaders. The Apostle Paul tells us,

we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

There is darkness all around us. Lust for power, lust for things, lust for the passions of the flesh, and all manner of excuses for losing our temper fill our world, our nation, our city and our community. James Madison once said, “All those who have power, will when they can, increase it.” You may be thinking I want that power. You may be asking, “How do I get that power?” “How do I get that job, or that promotion, or that house, or those retirement benefits?” “How do I get that game, or those toys, or that vacation?” “What can I do to not feel my age?” The answer is simple. We have to want it. We have to want it enough to push people away. We have to want it badly enough to be willing to give up who we are to conform to who this world tells us we should be. If we want it badly enough it is pretty easy to get what we want, and join those who march in unison behind the prince of the power of the air. The prince of the power of the air makes it pretty easy to follow him so long as you don’t mind chasing after something you can never have that continually costs us more and more of who we are. Yes. If we want it badly enough it is pretty easy to become a son or daughter of disobedience.

Let me ask you church; Yes or No? Do you want to be a son or daughter of disobedience? No. Do you want to follow the prince of the power of the air?! No! I certainly hope you don’t because more than anything I want you to want something better for yourselves. I want you to want something better for our church. I want you to want something better for this community and this town. (pause) But I can’t want it more than you. Hear the good news church! We do not have to conform! We don’t have to give up our true selves in order to fit in. We can have (pause) rebellious thoughts. We are allowed to have rebellious thoughts. Jesus Christ died to free us so the Holy Spirit can give us rebellious thoughts. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Do you know what that means? Jesus died for us while we were still marching as the Sons and Daughters of Disobedience. And I am willing to bet money I don’t have there are still some here today who are trying to conform to be like everybody else. There are Sons and Daughters of Disobedience in our congregation today. It should not matter whether we are like everybody else because we were created to be something different. The only way to find joy, and more abundant life is to live into the purpose for which we were created. We were not created to be like everybody else. Jesus Christ died so that we could have the freedom to be a rebellious people. Amen? Amen. Amen?! Amen! But here’s the thing. We have to want it.

If we want to be a rebellious people with rebellious thoughts we have to be willing to turn away from the things of this world. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). You see while we were conforming to this world we were dead asleep and didn’t even know it. Now, we must die to the lusts and passions of this world. Christ is calling us to turn away from those things, and to accept the free gift of God’s grace. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners – that means God reaches out for us first with God’s wonderful gift of grace. And before that God gifts us with Saving Faith to be able to accept God’s grace. To put it more simply God gives us faith like an alarm clock that we should;

Awake, O sleeper,
              And arise from the dead,
      And Christ will shine on you,” (Ephesians 5:14)

The light Christ shines on us is the light of salvation. We are to wake up from our death to conformity with rebellious thoughts. Instead of being concerned with looking good, or sounding smart, or whether or not we like the music in worship – instead of being concerned with whether we are like everybody else we need to be concerned with seeking Christ. We have to want to have rebellious thoughts. We have to be looking for ways to stand out in a good way for Christ. We have to be looking for that opportunity.

In preparing this morning’s sermon I came across a story about Pastor Mike Slaughter. Mike Slaughter is the author of the Rebel Gospel and the lead pastor of Gingamsburg United Methodist Church just north of Detroit, Michigan. Pastor Mike and his family were traveling from their home in Michigan down to the Gulf of Mexico on vacation. Sure enough before they crossed the Kentucky state line on I75 they heard the familiar question, “Are we there yet?” So like every parent on a road trip they came up with a game to play – the license plate game. Have y’all ever played that game on a road trip? Pastor Mike said, “I’ll give you 200 points if you can find a Canadian license plate.” He thought that would keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours, but within 30 or 40 minutes they had found a Canadian license plate. How did they find a Canadian license plate? They were looking for it. They wanted those points, and they wanted them badly enough to look for a Canadian license plate. The same is true for us church. If we really want to be the hands and feet of Christ we have to want it. We have to want it badly enough to look for those needs the church can meet for the glory of God in our community. And once we have found those needs we have to want to get up off of our pews to fill those needs.

Brothers and sisters we are all sinners. We are all a little too comfortable in our pews, and God is still reaching out to us. The alarm clock of God’s grace is ringing. Now is the time to wake up. There aint no time left to hit the snooze button. The time to act is now, but nothing can happen if we don’t want it to happen. If we don’t want to be the hands and feet of Christ, if we don’t want to have rebellious thoughts then all that’s going to happen is we are going to sit back in our pews and die. So let me ask you some yes or no questions church? Are you dead yet? No. Do you want to die? No. Do you want to live?! Yes! Do you want to live! Yes! Do you really want to live? Yes! Then now is the time for rebellious thoughts.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Focus On The Family Radio Theather – Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew, [Disc 1, track 7, 6 min, 55 sec].