content top

The Human Heart

Advent is the one Liturgical Season which seems to have broad appeal. It is short, and the payoff is long on good feelings. After all, this is the “season of anticipating joy.” Even the dusting of snow and the cold wind are part of what makes this time so special. Our expectations are so high and everything, as we hope for, should join in the festivities of the season. We expect that the “message” we hear from the pulpit will add to our joyful expectations. However, there is a sobering tone which brings us back to the real meaning of this season-Preparation for the Coming of Jesus. The unknown author of Third Isaiah runs the full length and breadth of Human Heart. Israel returns from exile in Babylon. Their hopes were great, but the results were less than spectacular. They realized that human achievements are tainted by sin and always lack the perfection we too often proclaim. There is a limitation as to what humans can achieve, hope and build. Even our best intentions and greatest works leave us still looking for true and enduring peace and happiness. In many instances, we have become fearful of the works of our hands. We must admit that at times we are under threat of what we produce, achieve and discover. From the result of human work, of the work of human intellect and the tendencies of his or her will…human beings are living increasingly in fear. We are becoming afraid that what we are producing…can readily turn against us. With this human condition, the unknown author of Third Isaiah proclaims: never despair. There is always plenty of reason to HOPE. This hope does not come from further exploits in technology or economic stability and prosperity. The ultimate affliction of human heart must turn to God for reconciliation that brings peace and drives out fear. Consider Isaiah 64:8: “You are our Father; We are the clay, and You are the potter; And we are the work of Your hand.” It is so easy for us to be distracted and preoccupied with the things that pass, and to miss the time of God’s coming. Too often we are looking for all the right things in all the wrong places. Advent is time for us to focus our eyes, perk up our ears, and ready our hearts for the God who comes at the appointed time. If we are off busying ourselves with many things, we can easily miss the one thing that is required for our salvation. Part of being ready is the awareness of just how much we need God’s healing grace. Often the season of Advent...

Read More

“Living in the Realm of Prayer”

“Living in the Realm of Prayer” Pray without ceasing….(I Thessalonians 5:17) Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this means that we will be busy planning for celebrations and family dinner. Not to mention about shopping. If there is one thing we need to do during this time of thanksgiving season, we need to pray.” We need to immerse ourselves in the realm of prayer. As Paul indicated in his Letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, “Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).    It is not enough for us to merely believe in God. We must cultivate and nurture a hunger that desire to hear from God, to know God and to capture His vision. Prayer is at the heart of this desire. John Wesley pointed out, “Prayer is the breath of our spiritual life. Without prayer, our life in God cannot continue.” He warns, “Nothing can be more plain than that the life of God in the soul does not continue, much less increase, unless we use all opportunities of communicating with God.” Wesley strongly believed that “the neglect of prayer” is the most important cause for Christians losing their faith. If I have one gift to give to our Church, I would offer the gift of prayer. Everything follows from prayer. Have you ever wondered why this is the first promise in our membership vows? I strongly believe that the question asked by John Wesley “How is it will your soul?,” at the beginning of the conduct of Annual Conferences, Class Meetings, Societies and Band Meetings is a question that inquires the hunger of the heart. It evaluates the state of your relationship with God and it is in the context of prayer because Wesley believed that everything follows from prayer. Same with our church! Anything happening to our church is attributed to prayer and everything that will happen to our church can be attributed to prayer. Pastor Kim, the pastor of Qumran Methodist Church-the seventh biggest single congregation of the whole world, is noted for his prayer life. Before he married his wife, Pastor Kim asked her four questions. FIRST, he asked her, “The church is in dire need of prayers. Would it be ok with you, if we just cancel our honeymoon and have an overnight time of prayers instead?” To this, his wife answered yes. So he asked his next question. “The church is so poor, it does not even have a bell what about not buying wedding rings for ourselves so that we could get a bell for the church again?” Again, she readily said yes. Then came the third question, “Also, an extravagant wedding is inappropriate at...

Read More

Becoming a Question to Others

A good question is worth more than a hundred answers. Good questions are often in short supply in an age which lusts after certainty. We prize answers and we despise questions. We love certainty, and we fear uncertainty. We demand certain trumpets from the pulpit to the White House to Wall Street. Offering of a complex answer is viewed as weakness and lack of conviction. We want our leaders to always be sure; even if they are seldom right. We demand guarantees instead of hope. H. L. Mencken once said, “That every complex question has a simple answer and it is always simply wrong. LIFE IS COMPLEX.” We need thoughtful reflection and humble prayer to be prudent in our dealings with others. Good questions challenge us to think, pray and be prudent. Good questions force us to examine those areas of our lives we should rather leave in darkness. In the Epistle of James 4:1, the author offers a good question. “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?” (NRSV). We might respond: out there! It is society, our environment or the difficult neighbor that accounts for all my problems vices. If only I could remove the external, the internal would be fine. We blame it to circumstances or others which help to explain the way we are. But the author of James offers a different approach. “Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? What you desire you do not obtain, and so you resort to murder” (4:1-2). Our troubles lie in human heart-a metaphor for inner being. We want to assert our will, wield power over and dominate everything and everyone for our selfish ends. Within our inner beings we experience envy, rage, murderous intent. Our general hardness of mind destroys communities and families. “The other is no longer a friend but an enemy; the other is not a gift but a threat; the other becomes hell from whom there is no exit” (Sartre). How can we overcome this so that our lives can become a question to others? Christ answer is most unexpected: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me….” (Mark 9:37). Those whose lives become a question to others must be childlike (not childish or immature). This is not easy. We try to fill ourselves up with material things, relationships, and honors. Yet none give lasting peace. It is only when we open our minds and hearts in childlike faith that God can fill us with what we truly need. If we try to find wholeness in and with the world, we are doomed to failure. The distractions are...

Read More

“Living According to the Riches of God’s Love”

                                         “Living According to the Riches of God’s Love” ….and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. -Ephesians 3:17- The Bible tells us that being alive means being loved by God. It means that we can love only because we are born out of love, that we can give only because our life is a gift, and that we can make others free only because we are set free by God whose heart is greater than ours. When we place our lives at the center of God’s love, God creates a space where we can enter and dance our own dance, sing our own song, and speak our own language without fear. Our faith walk will no longer be a burden or threatening or demanding but it will be inviting and liberating. God is rich and abundant in love! God is love and that he loves. This is the simplest, deepest, and truest statement the New Testament makes of God. Because He loves, He acts in love. Love is in and over all His works. In love and for love He has created us out of nothing. In love and for love and by love He has redeemed us from sin, death, and the power of Satan. In love and for love and by love He sanctifies us unto eternal life. We are to root our lives in this love. This love is without meaning unless we are rooted and grounded in it. For us children of God, love is not something we arrive at, it is something from which we start. We arrive at love only because we start from it. The story of the movie Fireproof is a classic example of this. Kirk Cameron a heroic fire captain who values dedication and service to others above all else, found himself living from the periphery of his most important part of his life-his marriage. For him, life without his wife will be meaningless. He tried everything, yet he came to discover that no matter how they work hard, they failed to arrive at love. But when they start from love, the ending of the movie shows that they were able to arrive at love. For us love is not so much something we live for, as it is something we live by. Only as we live by love are we enabled to live for love. We, children of God do not so much fall on love, as we fall in love; only as we fall in love have we any right to fall on the love of others. For us love is...

Read More

Something Supernatural

“Something Supernatural” Act 2:42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[b] and ate their food with glad and generous[c] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. On behalf of my family, thank you for the wonderful potluck welcome fellowship. As I have stated in my sermon, we are blessed, and we anticipate something great and wonderful new beginning. In this transition we continue to ask what is it that God intends for us and for our church? If we are blessed and chosen, if anticipate for something that is great and wonderful in this new beginning, what is it that God intends for us and our church. My answer is that, “God wants us to fully enjoy the life He had promised for us and He wants our church to be His best hope for Gladbrook Community. God wants us to experience Something Supernatural. HOW DO WE EXPERIENCE THAT? We experience it if we share the same motivation with God and with one another. Something supernatural happens when God’s people put their heads and hearts together. Something Supernatural happens when we become one in motivation with God. In order to achieve this, we must be willing to let go of the life we wish so as the life that God wants us to have as a community will come to us. We must be focused in bringing people to God and bringing the Church to the people. We must cultivate the highest motivation in telling the story of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Something supernatural happens when God’s people put their heads and hearts together. Acts 2:44 says, “All who believed were together and had all things in common….” We experience it when the Church prays much. Do you know that the growth of the church is in direct proportion to prayer? Bishop Trimble stated in his Episcopal Address in 2014, “No prayer, no power. Little prayer, little power. More prayer, more power. Much prayer, much power.” The first business of the church is prayer. The only business of the church is prayer. We become faithful disciples...

Read More
content top