Sunday, June 23, 2013
Walk to Emmaus #53
Script for Talk #15
Fourth Day (edited 7/18/19)
Slide 1 (Walk to Emmaus slide)
From early in my childhood, we were really active in the church. I even gave the Children’s Sunday Sermon – on the Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies, when I was in 6th grade.
But when I went to College in 1978, I left the Church. And, I wouldn’t come back for 25 years.
In 2003, at the end of a very unhealthy relationship, I started going to church because I saw the love Wesley UMC gave to a lady they didn’t know when her husband died. I was beside her in his room in the nursing home when he died.
She had told me she thought they were married in a Methodist Church. There was no record of her being a Methodist as far as they could tell; but they still loved her anyway, in the name of Christ. I thank God for that divine appointment.
In 2004 – I joined Church (Jan), graduated law school (May), and sat for Bar (July). Later that summer I knew God was calling me to study his Word, for the 1st time in my life. I started attending Disciple I bible study that fall.
I have been blessed with a gift of poetry from God. I really started to write from my faith when I opened God’s Word in 2004.
At the time of my Walk in October 2007, I was up to 1,700 poems (50,850, as of 7/18/19).
On the Walk, I was convicted that I needed to do more
- To Set my priority
- To Make a plan for my life
- To Growth through Study
- To Work to change my piece of the world
- to Use the gifts I had been given in Christian Action
I promised God I was going to let God use me to share his message through this gift of poetry.
Since then, God has given me 9,600 new poems, including about 5,000 in the last year (50,850, as of 7/18/19). They have been used in worship, in teaching, all around the world.
But I’ve really been challenged since October 2009, when I gave the Laity Sunday sermon on the parable of the rich man, as to exactly what God is calling me to do with my gifts and talents.
It is found in Mark 10:17-31
The rich man ran up to Christ and asked him what to do to inherit eternal life. Christ referenced the commandments. The man said he did those things. But then…
21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
And Jesus often talked about what it means to follow him, what we must be prepared to give up. Those first disciples gave up everything. They did drop their nets, left their families. They stopped serving one master and chose to serve another. They took up their cross and followed Jesus.
We need to always be testing our lives against the example of Christ and his teachings, to the words of our faith, and to Jesus’ challenges to the rich man, to all of us.
God is challenging us to trust in Him, that He will provide if we are faithful servants. That is in our work and in our sharing of our gifts on our Fourth Days.
It is a journey we are ever on, determining our priority, our call, our faith, our trust. It will happen in God’s time, not our own.
My Name is Ray Foss
and the name is this Talk is Fourth Day
There is A Lot to Do in the World
to Change the World, and it certainly needs changing.
A Lot to Do Closer to Home
To start locally and move out from there. These are pictures from a mission trip to Machias, ME from 2007, building bunks, repairing a roof, building a ramp, and repainting a house. Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
The weekend is almost over. We have spent three days in holy conversations, sharing so much around these tables, in this room, in quiet times, like on Thursday night, in dying moments, in candlelight, in worship, in communion, and around the tables sharing meals together.
We have been blessed by gifts of Agape and prayers around the world and around the clock.
But we are here today, right now, because we are able to leave, to separate, to be sown light wondrous seeds to the world, to continue this journey until we are joined with Christ in glory.
We are about to enter our Fourth Day, our life after, a succession of Fourth Days. It won’t be easy, it won’t be smooth sailing. God didn’t promise that.
In our Fourth Day, we must continue our commitment to be Christ in the world for others.
This weekend has been about what comes next.
If this is all there is, we have all failed. The fellowship, the sharing, all of it is to prepare you for your Fourth Day, your Fourth Days, all the rest of your lives on the journey of your faith, joyfully serving others, as Christ did.
We have met God anew here but we are to go forth now, back into our lives, into our communities, into our churches, energized for the work.
Meeting God Afresh
Seeing God, feeling Him with me
meeting God afresh, in fellowship
In those moments, precious
sensing love, familial, agape
Walking, journeying with God
in a daily covenant
Touched by Pentecost fire, filled by his grace
being a witness, yoked to Christ
With God as our master
great things we can do
You have a mission to
• Strengthen the Christian Community
– to share freely
– because the benefits are far reaching
• Develop Christian Disciples
– to inspire
– to equip
– to show them your new eyes, after these days set apart
• It is like the story of Moses
– not telling about the bush,
• about leading, the people of Israel from slavery into the promised land of relationship with God
• It is like the story of Jonah
– It is not about the fish, where he was for three days
– It is where we hear Jonah’s prayer, from within the fish.
– And the story of Jonah is about going as God commands, and his 4th Day, the day he said Yes to God, even if reluctantly.
• That was how I was on my walk, staring at my life, my history in the pit, knowing that God had reclaimed me, for a purpose
• And it is not about these 3 days per se
– Though each was time set apart
– Sort of like after the cross
– when Christ was transformed from a dead human to a new body, getting ready to ascend to heaven, free from the earth
– These days set apart are transforming us in ways we can’t imagine
– just as it changed Jonah
• And it is about us
– When we act
– We all have a role to play, as part of God’s revelation of the kingdom
Life Grace is a Journey
- not a destination
It is a process, moving from grace to grace to grace, moving on to perfection
- prevenient grace – a cloud of God’s grace around you
- justifying grace – at that moment we open God’s free gift
- sanctifying grace – every one of our Fourth Days
But it is what we do with it,,,
- The burning bush wasn’t for Moses, it was for the people of Israel
- Jonah was saved to save Nineveh
- AND we’ve changed, by being here
o but no one else has been
o and this weekend is about them, not us
§ We are just to be authentic and joyful
- It is about what we do from here on, during our Fourth Day.
Two Great Dangers after today
• Danger #1:
– Believing you are someone special
– That’s my head on the body of Robert the Bruce… my wife was joking she needed a knight in shining armor, so I did this…
– Don’t be overconfident
– you aren’t special or indispensible
– Lots of people find God, Christ, feel the Holy Spirit
– Emmaus is only one way
• Danger #2:
– Believing you are nobody, like an empty chair
– It took God 80 years until Moses got going
– We have a part to play; don’t give up, keep working
– God isn’t looking for those who are able; God is looking for those who are available, open to his call
– Frustration isn’t in charge; God is
In 1 Corinthians 15:9, the Apostle Paul said,
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Could you imagine what the church would be like today if Paul had really believed that?
We all have received gifts, as he says in 1 Corinthians 12, and we are all to use them.
How to be Yeast, Salt, Light
We have a key role to play, to be leaven in the dough, salt of the earth, and the light in the darkness (Matthew 13:33, and 5:13-16).
But How do we do that…
• WE Stay in touch with Christ
– read the word, dive in, like with Growth through Study
– This is fresh oil for your lamp, so you can shine
• WE Stay in touch with friends who share your priority
– Like the reunion groups, like our Men’s group at church
– They help you be accountable, real, be salt
• WE Stay in touch with people whom God has given you to influence
• Share the grace you have been given
• For me that is my poetry, especially when a student approaches me.
• Or some of the homeless who come to our weekly dinner, Our Family’s Table, at the church
All Saints Day
This is a picture of our church’s altar on All Saints Day. Anyone who wanted to came forward with the name of someone who had gone before us. One of the pastors read the name and the other one lit a small candle, which the organist rang a chime. It was so powerful, because we were naming the saints we know, who led us to our faith.
That is part of what this weekend is about, being that kind of person for someone else downstream from us, no matter how chipped or flawed we are, we just have to be a willing vessel; God will do the rest.
Through a Willing Vessel
Your grace oh Lord,
poured out, a libation for the world
shared through a willing vessel
no matter that it is worn, chipped,
damaged and patched,
worthy for the father’s purposes
for the continuing ministry of faith
through a willing vessel
gifts beyond measure
Equipment for the Journey
• A clear concept of your priority
Right from the beginning of the weekend, from the first talk, we have been talking about our priorities
I hope you’re getting the idea that the world is selling us bad goods.
Christ should be our priority.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a clear concept of the task
• The world needs change
• Through the Holy Spirit we can be used
• When we meet resistance, we meet it with love and perseverance
• Some don’t like Emmaus
• Some don’t like pushy Christians
• Some don’t like Christians
• Some think they have it all figured out.
• We are just to remain faithful.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a clear concept of people
• God’s gifts of Grace are different in each person
• But that’s a good thing
• We are all gifted for the work of the kingdom.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a Clear concept of holiness
• It expands life to the fullest
• When we use all our talents
• When we stay grounded in grace and our true destiny in Christ
• and when we put our trust in God
Her Knight in Shining Armor
Oh, and that lady who I helped back in 2003, which led me back to my faith. Well God wasn’t done with that nudge to stay faithful, to stay on the journey of my Fourth Days.
For you see in 2010, I looked through an old photo album from one of the retired pastors of our church. That was during a rough patch last year when I was really struggling with what my call was. Sure enough, there was a wedding picture of that nice lady and HER knight in shining armor.
It is a reminder to remain faithful and act in Christian love, even when we struggle.
Walking on this Journey
Walking on this journey
because I know my feet
stumbling, leading me
away from the path of life
wanting to be near God
yet walking far from Him
guiding me ever wayward
when I want to be like Him
Walking on this journey
knowing it is a struggle
wanting to submit to Him
but my weakness is within
Standing on this path
His hand to guide me
walking with my Savior
to heed the shepherd’s call
May God be with you on your Fourth Day
All of my poems, photographs, and videos are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. All rights are reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss (email@example.com) for usage. See all 50,850+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.
Growth through Study
Crossroads Walk to Emmaus – Men’s Walk - #45
Please turn to page 48 of your worship book and join me in the Prayer of the Holy Spirit
Please be seated.
Click to 1st Slide – Have you hugged your bible today up on the screen.
How many of you know the story of the Prodigal Son? Good, looks like this talk will be easier than I thought, since you all are reading your bible…
I don’t know about you, but I was in many ways that Prodigal Son. I had left the church right in the first semester of my college years when I was 18 and majoring in drinking. I didn’t like the way the church was presenting itself to me. I had given myself to God, was born again, when I was a youngster; but I was without a faith community. I hadn’t really read the bible, not really, before that, just Sunday school and summer camp. I hadn’t picked up a bible other than the few times as year I went to church with my mother when my first wife and I visited. She and I were of different faith traditions anyway.
I got into real trouble outside my faith, my grounding in God. I fell out of love with my wife and I broke more than a few of the Ten Commandments in the process. I ended up divorced and in law school at 41 in 2001.
And I started writing poetry through all of this, starting in 2000 at 40 years old.
I was blessed to see a church, Wesley United Methodist Church, reach out to a lady who had just lost her husband, someone who lived in the same apartment building as me, right next to the church. I started attending, I became more active. I joined the church in January 2004 after having no church for 23 years.
I became a little more active. I graduated from law school in May and I took the Bar late July.
Labor Day week 2004, I began a 34 week bible study, called Disciple I, which is a weekly study with reading, homework, group discussion one day a week, covering most of the bible.
I was excited about the reading, after 25 years without my faith and never having read the bible, and my seeking, wanting a structured study.
And I’m extraverted, (in the Myers Briggs I was 20 extraverted and 0 introverted), so sharing was easy. But it was a life changing event for me. I have not been the same since.
My wife, who is now a pastor and in seminary, was another member of the bible study. We fell in love while studying God’s word.
Not only did I gain a wife and 3 beautiful daughters (I can share pictures later); but I got to spend hours and weeks beginning a journey of discovery that continues to this day, drinking in the living waters of the good news, the word of God revealed in scripture, study, and devotionals.
Without this grounding, I was as lost as that Prodigal Son. With this ongoing study I hear over and over the saving message of God’s love and God’s grace (Ephesians 2:1-10), saving us by grace, not by works.
Oh, and that gift of poetry, that started with my first poem in April 2000 - I now have a blog with over 3,900 poems (3,100 of which are about my faith journey)
CLICK to title slide - #2
My name is Ray Foss and the name of this talk is Grow Through Study
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We are either growing or dying. Study helps us continue to grow.
I’m not sure who said this first; but I think in this information age, in this ADD world we live in, that has never been more true. So it is in the secular world. So it is in the spirit.
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Definition of Study
Study is an act or process by which one acquires knowledge of a subject for living.
Study can be one of the most energizing, liberating, and deepening human activities; it is the doorway to discovery.
But, for a Christian, it is more than this;
The purpose of study is not to just learn information but to transform every aspect of our lives. Study helps us to grow.
We are all at a different place in our journey. That is why we each need our own plan. What I am describing here is just my story, my awakening through study, and some things for you maybe to consider.
The aim of study for a Christian is growth in spiritual wisdom and the mind of Christ, through his life and his teachings.
Through Study we give God our minds, as in Piety we give God our hearts.
Put the Stool leg of Study on.
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Our minds, given to God
Spending time in Your Word,
the holy mystery recorded
revealed in the life of a people
and the life and death of a son
A story of redemption
in the sacrifice of the savior,
willingly, lovingly given
The love of the father
Ageless stories of grace upon grace
revealed in our story,
for it is our story too
if we give our minds to God
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What does the scripture say (and these are only a few verses).
- Paul said we are TRANSFORMED through the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2)
- We RENEW our minds by applying them to those things that are most worthy (Philippians 4:8)
- Jesus said that the knowledge of TRUTH will set us free (John 8:32)
- One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
- Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105).
Another section of Psalm 119 speaks to me especially…
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
- Each of us needs a unique PLAN that will work for us.
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A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON STUDY
Study is a constant part of our life. How much time do you spend studying our Christian priority?
Through study we grow; just as we don’t stop learning in high school or college, so we must study in our faith too.
Study is a Spiritual Discipline – continual discovery.
Our study should center on Christ as he is our model, the example for our lives.
We are informed of the truth and we are being formed in the truth.
Study grounds us in Christ, even as the world is changing so fast around us, so we can share Christ to the world.
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There are several Fields of study for growth; things that will work for you:
All of this is a process, a journey, not an end to itself. And, they are opportunities, possibilities, and suggestions, not mandatory…
THE GOOD NEWS – the loving story of our savior
SCRIPTURE – all of God’s word is holy and worthy of study; context matters; it gives us deeper understanding and inner transformation.
As my poem above said, it is a wonderful story of love and grace.
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Fields of study for growth:
YOURSELF – who better to start with (that person you see in the mirror), something that will be touched on throughout this weekend; to grown, to know and to use your God-given gifts.
OTHERS – especially fellow Christians, the saints who have gone before us. Through piety and study we can all people as God sees them.
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Fields of study for growth:
SPIRITUAL CLASSICS – The lives and wisdom of the saints, the writings of the masters of spiritual life, and the experiences, wisdom and courage of those who have gone before, adding understanding to our own challenges, our own journey.
THE CHURCH – the history of the church universal and your own denomination, to enable you to be a leader, an active member.
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Fields of study for growth:
HISTORY - it gives us a context and a perspective on our own times. And yes, that’s John Wesley, who gave us the vocabulary of prevenient and justifying grace. Through study, at least in part, I am trying to follow his guidance on moving on to perfection.
THE WORLD – current events and the state of humanity today; we must love the world as God did, as he sent his son, so we are sent.
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OBSTACLES / E X C U S E S
“I just don’t have the time.”
We all struggle with time
But You can make time; make it a priority
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“I don’t know what to study.”
Then seek guidance; ask someone
There are a lot of choices, many that are a day at a time
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“I don’t like to read books.”
A variant on this for me, at least in law school, was “I can’t read until I get bi-focals).
Try something else; listen to bible on tape, read journal, join group
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“I don’t understand the Bible.”
You can use a bible commentary or get an annotated bible (like this one). I rely on these notes at the bottom of the pages. I cannot just read the scripture itself.
AND, I mark mine up a lot! How many of you write in your bibles??
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“Theology confuses me.”
Theology is all around; don’t get hung up on the word; it is how we experience God
So, what do we do about all of this, these excuses, these other obstacles to spending time studying, drinking in the word of God, the message of God for our lives? It all goes back to Priority and Piety, making a choice, making a commitment, choosing to do this, and making a plan.
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DEVELOP A PERSONAL STUDY STYLE, that is right for you
Make it a Priority, make it regular, and if you miss days, start again
Balanced Diet of Material
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PERSONAL STUDY STYLE
Carve out Time, the same time each day if you can
Find the right Place, make it a place set apart if you can, holy ground
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PERSONAL STUDY STYLE
Keep a reading Journal
You should see my pastors when I start taking notes when they are giving a sermon…
Find a way to share what you have learned
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What I read / What I do: and again, this is what I do
At the beginning of the day (or end of day)
In our living room
GO OVER to table
Bible, like this annotated bible
Weekly bible study (Acts)
Upper Room, with bible readings and reflections
Alive Now, which follows the weekly common lectionary
Upper Room Disciplines, which also follows the weekly lectionary
Men’s Daily Devotional
Golden Texts – one verse a day, going through the bible
Practicing the Presence of God
YOU CAN see other examples on the book table, over there.
I keep a pad as I read the passages, the studies, and I write in my bible all the time, so the thoughts are there too, and the passages that really challenge or speak to me are there.
Write notes in church
For me that is my poetry – daily. Through study, God has gifted me with over 1,400 poems in the last year alone.
I have 5 sites that I post to, with over 14,100 copies of my poems on the web, over 12,000 about my faith. They have been read in over 165 countries.
I have been blessed through study.
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Challenge Yourself – we didn’t stop learning when we left school
Mature in the faith – in the same way, we as Christians should continue learning.
As I read recently in a Lay Speaker book, Go Preach, “You have been called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Immerse yourself in God’s Word, so that the Word may come alive in you.”
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Have Determination – we must be intentional
Feel God’s Loving Grace in the growing of your mind
I would like to close with a poem I wrote as I prepared this talk a month ago, for this moment:
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Through Your Word
In the quiet of morning
the still of the room, in the written word
a message of grace, for me, this moment
Through your word, I grow
I live, transformed, by your spirit
speaking to me, deep within me
writing more of your story
onto the flesh of my heart
through your word, growing
living my journey
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All of my poems and photographs are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss (firstname.lastname@example.org) for usage. See all 40,430+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.