Signing Off.

March 2nd, 2015 by RevBT

Thank you to all of my faithful readers, I am going to be closing down my blog in the next few days. It has been a fun ride and I may start it back up in the future as a free blog or something similar but for now it will be shutting down completely.

 

Thank you all.

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5 Aspects of Church: Evangelism

February 18th, 2015 by RevBT
Our last sermon on the five parts of a healthy church.
Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, and now evangelism.
To talk about evangelism we need to talk about the whole idea of the Bible and what it points to.
It’s like this:
If you take the whole Bible and take out all the references and consequences to sin we end up with two pieces. Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22
The Bible starts with Genesis 1-2 – a perfect garden where God visits with a tree in the middle.
- Verse 9
In the fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Revelation 21-22 – A perfect city where God lives with a tree in the middle.
- Verse 2
through the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life, which produces twelve crops of fruit, bearing its fruit each month. The tree’s leaves are for the healing of the nations.
The first tree got us into trouble and ruined humanity.
The second tree will show up when everything is made brand new.
It’s the first tree that ruined humanity and it is the second tree that gives hope to a ruined humanity.
For all of us here we live between the trees. We live with the consequences of the first tree and not yet at the end where the second tree exists.
The first tree has become a symbol of everything wrong with the world.
- Every disease, illness, trauma, suicide, poverty, slavery, injustice all of it is a result of the first tree.
- Every piece of hatred, malice, greed, gossip, lies, and oppression is because of this tree and points us backward to live in fear and live the opposite of the way God designed us.
The second tree, it is a symbol of hope.
- Revelation 22:2 says the tree is so big it spans a river. It has 12 kinds of fruit and bears fruit every month and its leaves give healing to the nations
- Every kind act of love, grace, mercy, and generosity points to a hope that we have in the future.
And here we are. We live somewhere between the fall of humanity and the restoration of humanity. The bible makes it clear that there is movement of the whole universe from the first tree to the second tree. That eventually people will be at the second tree and yet:
We spend our days working, taking care of kids, and moving all the parts of our lives just trying to keep the plates spinning. Without any care of where we have been or where we are going.
The whole world is going somewhere, there is a direction and a point that this whole world is going towards, sometimes I wonder if we aren’t sleeping through the whole thing. 
Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t asleep to the fact that we are going somewhere. That we are moving forward through time towards a destination.
Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t given up on the fact that there is more to this life than we have now. We have just given up?  I mean, we see all the consequences of this first tree, all this hurt, oppression, and injustice in this world and we have stopped caring about it because we believe that we can’t fix it.  That it is just too big and there is nothing we can do.
And so, even as Christians we simply move forward, covering our ears to the pain of this world and pretending like nothing is wrong because we can’t do anything about it anyway so if we pretend it isn’t there at least we won’t feel guilty for not doing anything.
I think this is where many churches are today.  We have come to believe that we are impotent to fix the world, our town, and even our families. We have simply run out of energy because the job is just “too big” so we stop giving our time, money, and effort to the cause of Christ and we come to church just because “we’re supposed to.”
We are supposed to be living for the tree of life and yet it is like we can’t see the trees for the forest and we are blind to the fact that the world is going somewhere.
Yes?
I mean, this is just depressing, if only we could take a taser back in time and stop Adam and Eve…
And now I stand here and if you aren’t asleep you are just confused about what this has to do with evangelism?
I think it has everything to do with evangelism.
Yet, we have come up with far more invalid excuses than we have results.
And I think our excuses are caused by misinformation.  Somehow through the years we have been taught that Evangelism means we go out and we rescue this fallen world from all of their heathen sins.  And that is just too big of a job and so we don’t do it.
The reality is, that is not evangelism.  Our call is not to save the world.  Jesus already saved the whole world.
Colossians 1:20. Jesus’ blood spilled on the cross saved EVERYTHING! Not just you and the people in the church but your dog, the trees, your teachers, your parents, your co-workers, that cashier that takes forever to ring up your groceries, your weird neighbor….all of them have been rescued through the work of Jesus on the cross. This means all dogs do go to heaven.
So then, Evangelism is nothing more than pointing out the two trees to people.
Do we have an eternal hope that this new tree, the city, and the God who lives in it will soon show up?
Do we have a hope, that this is not the best it can get? That it gets better than it is right now?
That it isn’t about your best life now. It is about your best eternity.
Evangelism is showing people both trees and saying you can live with either one but only one will last forever.
We point out the trees and we live for the one in the future, the hope of a better day.
We point out the tree, once someone knows about it we start showing them how to live for that tree. We walk with them, work with them, and encourage them to live for that new day and new hope.
but maybe we don’t have that hope. Maybe we have lost that hope. I think that is the reality for too many Christians. We don’t even have that hope anymore.  
As a result, I think, many people sitting in church pews these days are just like non-Christians except they get to sleep in on Sundays and we don’t. 
 I would suggest that many Christians do not have any hope left.  Which is why we don’t evangelize. If we still had hope then churches would have more people in attendance. we would have churches that are overflowing. But we don’t and I point to that as evidence we don’t have any hope.
Do we want that hope? Do we want to be alive again? Do we want to feel the thrill of adventure? That rush as we realize that the spirit is on the move and we are moving with the spirit? Or are we comfortable just sleeping?
What would be the consequences of just sleeping? I mean, we will get to heaven right? So why not just keep the status quo, don’t risk anything, and just coast into the new heaven and the new earth?
- Revelation 3:14-17

14 “Write this to the angel of the church in Laodicea:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler[a] of God’s creation. 15 I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I’m about to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 After all, you say, ‘I’m rich, and I’ve grown wealthy, and I don’t need a thing.’ You don’t realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked.

- neither hot nor cold means we are nothing. Nothing gets projectile vomited  out. Not spit out. Barfed with force.  If you have ever had to clean vomit off the ceiling you understand.
- To continue to sleep and play dead will mean we do not get to see the second tree. It will mean an eternity separated from God.
So we need to recapture that hope before we can expect anyone else to capture it for the first time?  How do we become alive again?
1. Acknowledge that we are asleep.  Confess that we have been sleeping for far too long and we need the spirit of God to wake us up.
2. Wake up. You can’t just say “I’m asleep” and then not change. You have to actually get up. Start moving. Start doing something
Once we as a church wake up to this hope of a new city with a new tree in it. We realize how amazing that new city and new life is.  The natural cause of this is to wake up other people.
That is evangelism. To wake up other people.  Sometimes we even need to evangelize “christians” and show them of the hope they have to look forward to.
You might be sitting here asleep or lukewarm.  I pray for you. I pray everyday that Holy Spirit will descend on you like an earthquake and force you out of your slumber.
Unfortunately I can’t force you to wake up, that is between you and God, but I won’t allow you to force everyone else to sleep alongside you. 
Some of you are awake and ready to start this evangelism. That is Awesome! Keep doing that! Keep waking up the world. Push the envelope. Cross the line and do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone knows about the tree of our past and the tree that is our hope for the future.
Our call as Christians is to wake up the whole world to the new tree we are quickly approaching and that the only way to get to it is through believing in Jesus.
Jesus understands that sometimes Christians lose their own hope. That they fall asleep and get to comfortable. Jesus came to wake us up and move up to a new place. Jesus came to say to each and every one of us that we can no longer sleep, we can no longer do nothing. That this world is moving forward towards perfection and that we are called to wake each other up to that hope and future that we all have.
It is only in waking up the world that we have practiced evangelism and can say we are dong what Christ has called us to do.
It is only in waking up those around us that we can hope to have a healthy and vital church.
So then, may you wake up and wake up those around you. Both inside the church and outside the church.
We are marching toward this new day. Where illness doesn’t win, suicide is not the end, and cancer does not get the final victory.
Where Jesus gets the final victory. And only those who believe in Jesus will see that day.
So maybe you want it. You desperately want that. Then all you need is to take it. Maybe that is coming to the altar or a prayer of confess whatever it is it is about waking up and waking up the whole world.
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5 Aspects of Church: Ministry

February 16th, 2015 by RevBT
Continuing on with the 5 aspects to a healthy church.
Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship, and now Ministry.
Next week is Evangelism
Then we have Scout Sunday.
Then we start a sermon series on Hope. I am very excited for our series on hope.
But for today is ministry.
Ministry is that thing we do that is the hard work of the gospel. It is the getting your hands dirty in the name of Jesus that spreads the faith and hope we have to those around us.
Simply put, ministry is the part of our faith where the rubber meets the road.
It is the hands dirty, dirt underneath the nails, sweat of your brow kind of work of Jesus.
A lot of times we think that ministry is going to Africa on missions or going to the food bank or something like that and That would be true all that is ministry
but, a lot of times ministry looks a lot different.
Ministry is the Care and Share and offering help to those in need.
Ministry is our weekend feeding program
Ministry is when you show up early and set up the Powerpoint for church
Ministry is when you serve on a committee
Ministry is when you teach children about the faith
Ministry is when you show up and lead the choir or set up coffee hour.
Ministry is when you say because I believe in Jesus I am going to fill that need I see.
Many of you are already heavily involved in ministry.
We are all called to ministry.
We are all called to different ministry.
Maybe you are called to a ministry of prayer or of healing or music or service. There are all kinds of ministries and everyone is called to them. 
While we aren’t called to ministry we are all called to be in ministry.
We just heard a beautiful rendition of “I can only imagine” that is ministry!
You are not all called to the same thing. Each person is called to their own ministry.
Ephesians 4:11-13Common English Bible (CEB)
11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.
We are called to different things.
- Some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors,teachers.
God called us to different ministries so that we are equipped for the work of building up the body of Christ.
Not about building church, or attendance, or offering. It is about building the body of Christ. Strengthening the whole of Christianity.
- Ministry isn’t always in church, your job can be your ministry. Your hobby can be your ministry.
- Ministry is the work you do that builds up the body of Christ. Whatever it is, when it builds up the Body of Christ it is ministry. It can be coffee with a friend or building houses in mexico, or going to work and being the best employee your boss has ever seen. You ministry can even be going home and being the best parent you can be.
God calls us to ministry as a way to mature us in our faith.
- Ministry is how we become full grown and mature in the faith.
There are dangers here:
- trying to be something we are not.
     – If you are called to a ministry of music and you try to do a ministry of teaching kids then you are not living up to the call God has for you.
- it is dangerous to do it when it is not in the name of Jesus, doing it to feel good, or doing it out of obligation or to get recognition. Jesus even says if you do it to get praise that is wrong.
     – If you are not doing ministry you will not grow in your faith.
     – you are also being fake and hurting the church because you are not using the gifts God has given you.
- If you are doing nothing, this is not good. You will not grow. You will stay spiritually immature forever. Yes, you are saved but you are missing out on the blessings that come with maturity in Christ.
- Too often we have come to believe that maturity comes with age. That is a lie. Maturity comes from growing in Christ through ministry.
So how do you know what to do?
- There are lots of ways.
- What do you like to do?
- What are your spiritual gifts?
- Take your spiritual gifts, add them to what you like, and you know what your ministry is.
- So how do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Take a Spiritual Gift Inventory to help you figure that out. We have put spiritual gift inventories in the back and they will help you discover what the gifts are that God has given you to use in ministry.
- So your spiritual gift is administration and you enjoy baking. Now you organize a baking ministry for our shut-ins?
- Or your spiritual gift is teaching and you love to crochet. Now, start a class teaching young people to crochet?
- Or your spiritual gift is music. Let’s have you perform a solo here in church. Or be part of our concerts we have going on.
- Maybe your spiritual gift is caring, and you love hanging out with people younger than you? Then start a youth group here.
- Maybe your spiritual gift is teaching and you love kids. Maybe you could be our next Sunday School teacher?
You have been given a gift, you have a ministry to be a part of.
God is calling you to ministry and God desperately wants you to do that ministry. When you don’t the whole church suffers.
Your spiritual gifts were given to you by the Holy Spirit, they are meant to be used.
When we use them, we make the whole church better, more alive, healthier.
We have to be using them. Gifts that are not used are wasted.
When you use your gifts in the service of Jesus, that is ministry. That is what makes the church alive and vital and healthy and growing and it makes people want to be a part of our church.
So then, we are called to ministry. Hard work in the name of Jesus that builds up the body of Christ. No matter your age, income, or abilities. You are called to ministry.
Jesus drove home the point of ministry in communion. He sat down with a table full of people who didn’t get it, but were still called. So that is what we are going to do. Come to this table as people who don’t always understand but are still called.
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Valentine’s Day and the Promise of Unconditional Love

February 14th, 2015 by RevBT

So, no big deal, but I got published in the newspaper! Our great local newspaper asked me to write an article for their February edition. I thought I would copy the article here. You can find the original at the www.pabridges.com. Thank you to the good folks at pabridges for publishing what I wrote. Here is the whole article below.

Greetings! As this is my first article for Pennsylvania Bridges, I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself. My name is B.T. Gilligan and I am the pastor at California United Methodist Church. I started here last July so I am fairly new to this beautiful town. My family and I are still trying to learn our way around town and all the people’s names. We came from a small town near Grove City. I can’t believe how fast time has gone and how quickly we have gotten to nearly Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day always brings back memories of those terrible junior high awkward years and the even more awkward junior high dances. I don’t know if you are familiar with them but they are the stuff of nightmares. I remember one particularly horrible junior high dance that I attended. While there, I saw the girl who was my math class crush, not to be confused with my English class crush or my science class crush. After an hour of trying to work up the courage, I finally asked her to dance. At my request she promptly burst into tears and ran into the girls’ restroom where she hid until the dance was over. I had extended myself and risked everything and I got crushed. It was horrible. I still have nightmares about this event.

This is what love is. When we are in love with a person we have put ourselves in a place where we risk being hurt by another person. When we love we extend ourselves in such a way that we might get crushed. If we never risk our pain for another, we aren’t really experiencing love. When we say we are in love with someone, we are saying that we have opened ourselves up to them and they are free to respond or not. Their response, or lack of one, does not make our love any less real. Love is not less valid because the other person does not respond. In fact, this is how we know what love is, when we put ourselves in a position where we might get hurt so that others can experience the love you have for them.

This is what it is with Jesus. At the cross, Jesus died because of His great love for the entire world. Jesus did it knowing some may not respond and that some may even reject Him. At the cross Jesus extended Himself to all people, no matter what. The love Jesus showed at the cross is not dependent on anyone’s response and is still valid regardless of what we have done.
Some of us may have said yes, some may have said no, still others may have burst into tears and ran to the bathroom. Either way the love extended is still there waiting, waiting for you
and for me, available to you no matter what.

At CUMC, we say it this way: “No matter what you did, when you did it, who you did it to, with, for, because of, or how many times you have done it, God’s not angry with you. God is in love with you and has made Himself available to you through Jesus.”

So then may you know that just as you risk pain and heartache when you love another person, so has Jesus risked it all for you and the whole world.

Services are held at CUMC on Sundays at 10:45 a.m.

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5 Aspects of Church: Fellowship

February 12th, 2015 by RevBT
Worship, Discipleship, Now Fellowship.
Worship is when we give honor and praise to God.
Discipleship is when we teach others about the faith
Fellowship is when we get together with friends and have encourage each other.
Fellowship is an important part in the life of the church because it is how we know each other.
Without fellowship we are just a bunch of people who are in the same room.
Fellowship is what shapes us into a community.
When we look out and we see someone we know it makes all the difference.
When we look out and we see someone we have a connection with it helps us feel like we belong here.
Many of you already know and experience fellowship here.
- Some of you have grown up with the people in the pews.
- Some of you have spent your whole life with the people around you right now.
- You have seen the best and the worst of their lives and they have seen you at your best and your worst. 
That kind of fellowship didn’t happen over night. You spent years cultivating it. You may not even know you have worked on it. but you did. 
That kind of fellowship and connection with each other is a great thing! We need to keep doing that. 
If you have ever been in a place with no fellowship you may feel like you are alone in a crowd or that you are just a number.
If you have ever been in a place with no fellowship you might describe it as just plain lonely or boring.
No one really wants to be in a place where they are lonely or bored. Especially in a church. When people feel alone in a church they don’t stay. They find a convenient reason not to come back. All because no one made a connection with them. 
 
Like at the grocery store deli counter. We are all gathered but no one is connected and no one wants to be there. Not even the people working. So they go when they have to and leave as soon as possible. 
 
Church without fellowship is exactly the same idea. No one wants to be there and so they show up when they have to. 
So what does the Bible say about all of this?
1 Thessalonians 5:11Common English Bible (CEB)
11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.
So we need to keep doing that.
However, there is a danger in it. The danger is, we only do this with people we already know.
When we only fellowship with people we already know then what happens is we become internal and we focus on ourselves and the church can become insulated where only the people who are already here are welcome. 
That will destroy a church.
It turns the church into nothing more than an exclusive country club.
So what steps do we take to keep encouraging one another but also to fellowship with people we don’t know?
Look at the verse we read.
The word encourage in Greek is this word “Parakaleo” and it literally means to talk to someone in a way that is encouraging and comforting them. 
So I think that is the first piece of fellowship.
1. Speak words that are comforting and encouraging
- Ephesians 4:20 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The next piece that comes from this verse is you actually have to talk to people. 
That new person will never feel connected. Your kids will never feel connected. If you don’t talk to them. 
1. is speak encouraging words
2. is actually talk to them.
This however sets us up for a natural question of “when?” When can we talk to them? 
If Fellowship happens in conversation where does conversation happen? 
- It can happen over coffee or over lunch
- It can happen when you are driving
- It can happen when you are washing dishes
- It can happen anytime and anywhere.
- It can happen before church or on the way out the door on the way to your car. 
- A great place for fellowship is in the communion line as we are all coming forward.
- Another time for fellowship is when you are sitting next to that new person in church and it is time to stand, or sit, or turn in their bible, or repeat our prayer or something. When you lean over and say “this is what we do” Then you have just made a connection that comes through fellowship. 
It isn’t this forced fun idea. It happens simply by talking to another person. 
That fellowship is what connects people to you and to the church. Our Wednesday night dinners are a great example of fellowship. When we sit down and hang out with people we connect them to us, they become our friends, but we are also connecting them to our church as a safe place where they feel welcomed and included.
So who do you encourage and comfort?  Keep doing that! The world needs more of that! We need to be encouraging and comforting to all those people around us.
Who do you ignore? Who is it that you don’t talk to? Maybe it is the Walmart cashier or the mailman. Whoever it is, start a conversation with them. Just say Hi! It might be the only human they actually talk to all day. 
This week, I want to dare you, no I triple dog dare you to start a conversation with someone you already see everyday and yet you don’t know them very well.
Fellowship is something we are already pretty good at here in the church. We can do better though. We need to keep doing it as much as possible. and we need to make sure that we don’t only fellowship with those we know, because when we do that we insulate ourselves and turn inward. We must make sure that just as we encourage and comfort those we know that we use fellowship as a way to talk to others around us that are not connected to our church. 
It is through fellowship that we become more than just a group of people in the same room but that we become a church. A church that is healthy, alive, and vital and growing.
 Sermon Audio 

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5 Aspects of Church Discipleship

February 10th, 2015 by RevBT
Continuing our series on the 5 parts of a healthy church.
Last week was Worship and that passionate and inspiring worship is key to a healthy church and without it churches will become unhealthy and unable to make disciples.
This week is Discipleship. Discipleship is a fundamental part of church. Without discipleship that is intentional the church will be unhealthy.
Discipleship is the intentional growth of someone’s faith from that of a brand new Christian to a well-developed leader.
If we hope to have a healthy church we must disciple people and we must have a plan for discipleship.
Without intentional discipleship then people are not growing in faith.
Without people growing in faith we end up with either no leaders or at best dysfunctional leaders.
Without people growing in their faith the church suffers. Actually, what happens is there are no new leaders to take over on committees and people end up on the same committee for 20 plus years because there is no one to replace them.
Without discipleship, there are no Sunday School teachers, which means kids aren’t being discipled. Which means the next generation isn’t discipled.
Which means the church closes. Slowly but surely, without discipleship churches will cease to exist.
Without adequate discipleship the church will die. Literally, without discipleship the leadership will get old, pass away, and there will be no one left.
You might be sitting here thinking “This church will never die, there will always be someone to take over.” Well, the reality is, without discipleship there is no one to take over.
Without discipleship, one day the bishop will show up, say a few nice words, serve communion one last time and then the lights will be turned off and the doors locked one last time before a for sale sign goes up on the front lawn. In our conference this happens about 6 times per year, every year.
Discipleship is key to a church’s survival.
If Discipleship is so fundamental, what is it? How do I know if I am disciplining someone? How do we know if the church is disciplining people?
A Disciple is someone who follows someone else.
In our case that someone else is Jesus.
A Disciple is someone who follows Jesus, does what Jesus does.
Discipleship is when one person helps another person follow Jesus.
This doesn’t mean they have it all figured out or know all the answer but it means that they are figuring it out together.
Here, turn with me to Matthew 28:16-20 and see what Jesus says about discipleship.
Matthew 28:16-20 Pew Bible Page 32
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
This points to a few things about discipleship.
1. You can still be a disciple if you have doubts. Verse 17. The Disciples doubted.
     – We don’t know what they doubted. Their abilities? Jesus? Their mission? We only know they had doubts.
     – If you doubt you are in good company.
     – You can doubt and still follow Jesus.
2. Jesus commands us to make disciples
     – If you have never made a disciple, you are not doing what Jesus has commanded you.
     – If you cannot point to a single person who is a Christian because of you, then you have not made a disciple and you are not doing what Jesus commanded.
3. We make disciples by teaching people the commands of Jesus.
     – Not by making them follow church rules or traditions.
     – Not by teaching them the finer points of Arminianism vs. Calvinism
     – By teaching them to follow the commands of Jesus.
          – There are only 2.
               – Love God with your whole heart, mind, body, and strength.
               – Love your neighbor as yourself.
     – Parents, you don’t do this by dragging your kids to church. You do it by actually teaching this to your children.
     – Spouses, you don’t do this by dragging your spouse to church. You do this by actually teaching it to them.
     – You teach this to those around you by actually doing it.
     – Modeling this behavior and talking about this belief is how you teach it.
          – If you teach your kids to love their neighbor and then make racist comments in front of them you are teaching racism.
          – If you teach your kids to love God, but then you don’t read your Bible you are not discipling your kids.
          – If you model loving your neighbor but never tell your family why you love them then you are not making disciples.
          – You do it, and you talk about why you do it. That is how you make disciples.
How do you know if you have made a disciple?
- Not church attendance, not bible knowledge, or confirmation or membership.
- You have made a disciple when that person makes a disciple.
- If that person never makes a disciple then neither have you.
- Jesus calls us to go make disciples. If that person has not made a disciple they are not following Jesus. Which means you have not made a disciple which means you are not obeying Jesus’ command to make a disciple.
If you are not discipling someone you are not a disciple of Jesus.
Your family counts.
Your weird neighbor counts.
Your kids count. In fact your kids are the best opportunity you have for discipling people.
- I would suggest that if you want to leave a legacy to your children that the best way to do that is to teach them to follow Jesus.
- I would suggest the greatest gift you can give your children is a faith that is their own that they live in to and can say confidently that they believe in Jesus.
- You might not be the person who changes the world and calls thousands of people to Jesus. However, you might be the person who raises the person who changes the world and calls thousands to Jesus.
I would also say, that it isn’t to start this. If your kids do not have a faith of their own or it is that faith that only shows up on Christmas and Easter or when you force them and they give you an answer just to get you to leave them alone. It is not to late!
You can start those conversations now. Not in that nagging overbearing parent kind of way but simply loving your kids and talking to them about grace and second chances and the love God has for them.
Discipling is not some weird long involved process. Or some check list of things you have to do. It is growing together and figuring out faith together. So you and another person read the Bible together? You read devotions together? What do you do?
You begin the process of discipling someone with one question.
- Based on what you just heard/learned/talked about, what are you going to do.
So, if you are reading the Bible together you disciple them by saying “Based on what we read, what are you going to do?”
If it is your kids and they are with you in church today you ask them “What are you going to do based on what you just heard?”
If it is your co-worker, distant relative, friends. You can say “Hey, I was in church this weekend and let me tell you what we just talked about. Or even “Hey, want to have lunch with me.” Then start by listening to them, getting to know them, and then finish with “we should do this again.” and keep that conversation going and moving.
You can disciple anyone. It doesn’t need to be official or drawn out or have curriculum. It is simply you and her or him sitting down and talking about life and how Jesus fits into it and how you can each be better at following Jesus.
We:
To be a healthy church we must each be discipling someone.
So here is the challenge. If you are not currently discipling someone, this week, go find someone. Anyone.
You can tell me if you want, but I won’t ask if you are doing this, but I will know. We will all know if you are discipling someone because they will be coming to church and hanging out with you and you will be a better Christian and everyone will see that you are taking the commands of scripture seriously.
When you take discipling seriously and begin to disciple others everyone will see it. We will see you taking the commands of Christ seriously and you are investing your time into them.
When we take discipling seriously the whole church will be healthier and California United Methodist Church will exist for generations and generations.
Sermon Audio 

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5 Aspects to Church: Worship

January 14th, 2015 by RevBT
Today we started a new sermon series on the 5 aspects of a healthy church. Each week we will talk about one of the following: Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, Evangelism.
- There are five parts to a church.
- 5 things that when done well make for a healthy church that is growing and vibrant.
- Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry and Evangelism
- There are not ranked. One is not more important than another.
- All must be done well and in balance with another.
- All must get equal time and energy. Some will get emphasized at certain times but over arching theme is all of them.
- When one is emphasized over another it creates problems and in extreme cases and become a cult.
- For example: When Fellowship is put above discipleship then it is just a bunch of people talking and hanging out and there is no Jesus involved
- Another Example: Worship put above fellowship where people come and feel good about themselves without ever being connected to one another.
- For the next 5 weeks we are going to talk each week about these and see if we can learn something that will help us along.
- Today is Worship.
- Worship is about giving praise and honor to something.
- We are designed to worship.
- It is in our nature to worship something bigger than ourselves.
- We want to worship. This is why we fall in love with the Steelers, because we believe that are bigger, better, stronger than us. So we worship them.
- Since we are designed to worship it should be no surprise that we all worship something.
- We all worship something.
     – Some of us worship the Steelers.
     – Some of us worship money
     – Some of us worship drugs, alcohol, pornography.
     – Some of us worship ourselves or our spouse or our kids.
- We all worship something, the key is to know what to worship.
     – If you aren’t sure what you worship. Look at your checkbook and your calendar. Where does your time or money go?
- Jesus has called us to worship God and God alone. That means if you worship anything other than God you are not a follower of God.
     – The first commandment of the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. You shall have no other idols above me.
     – Jesus goes so far to say in Luke 14:26 that if you love your family more than him you are not a Christian.
          – This certainly puts the Steelers into perspective?
- there are two main parts to how we worship.
     – Corporate and Private.
          – Private worship is when you are alone. Maybe on your motorcycle or in your car singing KLOVE at the top of your lungs.
          – There are lots of ways to privately worship.
     – Corporate worship is when we come together and worship God.
          – 1 Corinthians 14:26 “ What should be done then, my friends? When you come together each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
          – This, right now is corporate worship. As we are gathered here we are corporately worshiping God.
     – Christians are called to both private and corporate worship.
     – This means if you show up here every week but then never open your Bible at home you are not fully worshipping God.
     – This means if you read your bible every day at home but never come to church you are not fully worshipping God.
          – Those of you watching on TV, you still need to go to a church. Any church.  Corporate worship is vitally important to who you are as a Christian.
- Corporate worship is so important, to the life of a Christian. Here, turn with me to Hebrews 10:25
Hebrews 10:25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.
When we gather together and read scripture and sing songs and worship God it helps us to encourage each other.
We can’t stop doing this.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.
Going to church encourages you to keep being a Christian.
See, as Christians one of the things we have is hope. Hope for a better day. Hope for a day when injustice, poverty, hunger, abuse, oppression will not win!
A day when all things good and lovely and beautiful will rule the day.
In this world it is easy to get beat down, exhausted, worn out, and just tired and lose hope.
- We turn on the TV and see hatred, injustice, we see people killing others because they don’t like a cartoon.
- We go to work and see privilege and power instead of equality and fairness
It becomes so easy to lose hope.
Church is where we come together and encourage each other to not lose hope.
This is why we gather in church for worship. To encourage each other.
But let’s be honest, sometimes church is just boring. Sometimes the preacher is boring, the choir rocks but the songs fall flat and we rather be anywhere else than in church.
Worship can’t be boring, we can’t let it fall flat. Worship time must be quality, passionate and inspiring.
so what makes worship boring? Could be the preacher, the music, the prayers, or it could be a lack of application. Who knows.
What matters is we make our worship as passionate, inspirational, and applicable as possible.
If we can do that and you can join us, then we can have a pretty great time in corporate worship.
This would be the kind of worship service you want to come to.
This would be the kind of worship you would skip a Steelers game to come to.
This would be the kind of worship you want to bring your friends and family too.
I don’t know if you have noticed but it has even 8 weeks since a brand new person has joined us for worship. We have stopped bringing our friends to church. Why?
- So then, I think this means for us is that we need to be in worship. It means each of us, all of us.
- “When you feel like it” is not enough
- 1 week a month in church is not enough.
- Unless you are sick, working, or it is unsafe for you to be out we you need to be here.
- This is why we don’t cancel church, ever!
- We need to gather, for encouragement and for worship.
- But we need to gather for worship that is encouraging, passionate, inspiring, and applicable.
- Imagine what that would do for us, having us all here gathered together to encourage each other.
- Imagine what that would do for our world, to have a group of people who were passionately committed to worshipping God.
- That would be amazing! We can do that. But it takes all of us.
Let us pray. Sermon Audio 

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2014 Books I read!

January 9th, 2015 by RevBT

I love to read! I have a personal library of nearly 1,100 books. Most of them I have read. Unfortunately I don’t get to read as much as I would like so I try to read one book per month. I also try to read a novel once a year. So without further ado here is my 2014 book list. With links to Amazon to buy them, but I don’t get any money if you buy them.

  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth: I read the whole series and it was wonderful! It is an easy read and a great story.
  2. Autobiography of Peter Cartwright: He is one of the early traveling Methodist Preachers and has quite a story to tell from the time he beat Abraham Lincoln in an election to the time he got in a fist fight with the Baptists. All great stuff!
  3. Christmas is Not Your Birthday by Mike Slaughter: Too often Christmas gets commercialized and we create a system of gluttony and debt. This book addresses those issues and calls us to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
  4. Making Disciples by Ralph Moore: This book is the one I would recommend the most. It gives practical tips and ideas on how to introduce people to Jesus.
  5. Change the World by Mike Slaughter: This book was part of a book study I led at my church. It was a great study and led to some significant changes at the church.
  6. Leadership Prayers by Richard Kriegbaum: A book of prayers for leaders in any capacity. The temptation was to read the whole book in one sitting but I didn’t. I read one prayer per day and it was beautiful.
  7. Unleashing the Word by Adam Hamilton: A good book on preaching. Great for new pastors who are struggling with preaching.
  8. Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Brueggemann: This book wasn’t as good as I was told it would be but I still enjoyed it. All about giving up the culture of now.
  9. Becoming a Healthy Church by Stephen Macchia: I do not recommend this book. I found it outdated and focused on the “Church Growth Model.” I have major issues with that model and as a result I did not like this book.
  10. Shiny Gods by Mike Slaughter: Another decent book by Mike Slaughter. Easy read about giving up idols in our life.
  11. Dare to Dream by Mike Slaughter: How to have God sized dreams and actually accomplish them. I enjoyed it.
  12. Momentum for Life by Mike Slaughter: I really enjoyed this book as it talks about practical ways to live out a life of faith for a lifetime.
  13. Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton: This is one of my favorite books of the year. Adam Hamilton breaks down the hard topics of the Bible and makes them understandable for people who do not have a Master’s Degree. I would highly recommend this book.
  14. Leading Beyond the Walls by Adam Hamilton: This book is helpful to pastors trying to turn around a church or plant a new church. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any pastor.

So, there you have it, all my books from this year. I didn’t plan to read so much Adam Hamilton or Mike Slaughter but that is how it worked out. For 2015 I intend on reading some non-methodist stuff and try and read a few more novels.

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