Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday June 7
  • Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
  • Blessed Be Your Name
  • Your Grace Finds Me
  • Great Are You Lord
  • I'm going to take a break this morning from the book of Acts and address what's going on in our nation. But rather than telling you what you should think, I want to add some coaching into the mix. In other words, I'm going to ask a lot of questions. Walk through some scriptures, ask some questions, and then take some time to process. In a normal coaching conversation I would give you as much time as you need to answer, but we can't do that in this setting so it might be a good idea to have a pen and paper handy - write some things down and revisit these later.
    These last several months have challenged us and have created all kinds of experiences and emotions and questions. Fear, anger, worry, confusion, information overload, questions, fatigue …. It’s been a journey, and the journey is not over.
    Now, having these emotions and opinions are not necessarily right or wrong, good or bad or even sinful. Much of what we're experiencing is just simply being human. But where we run into danger is when we don't take the time to evaluate our emotions and our opinions and our perceptions and make sure they are in alignment with the Word of God - that were thinking with the mind of Christ and we're living the way that Jesus would want us to. In that itself is a journey of Upson downs and twists and turns.
    For me, the last several months have caused me to ask a lot of questions about the condition of the world, the condition of humanity, the effectiveness of the Church (C and SCN) and questions about self. I'm asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of self-evaluation and I hope you are as well.
    What I'm about to say is not coaching but rather a direct statement. If our attitude is simply to wait it out - to wait out the virus, to wait out the protests, just to wait until everything calms down - then we're missing it. We're missing the bigger picture and we're missing what God wants to do in us and in this world.
    If it is God's goal for us to become mature believers, to grow up in our faith in Jesus Christ that does not get put on hold because of what is happening in the world. So waiting it out … I’ll let you come to your own conclusion on that one.
    Consider all of your emotions, your reactions … during the pandemic and now the protests and riots etc. - just ask ...
    Question: Lord, where have I not been in alignment with you?
    What emotions, what reactions, what are some things that I've said or done that has not reflected who Jesus Christ is … not a good reflection of Christianity?
    Question: Jesus, what would you have me do with these?
    At prayer this past Wednesday, the Lord convicted me of a few things ….
    Listen to
    James 1:2–4 ESV
    Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
    Question: What is God teaching you during these trials?
    What is He doing to help you grow up, to mature in your faith, to be more Christlike?
    It's interesting here that scripture says to allow the trial to have its full effect. In other words let the trial do what it is supposed to do - to mature us. There is something to learn, something that needs to be exposed, something that needs our attention.
    Question: If God stopped all the protests right now - what would be the end result? What would be solved?
    There is an underlying issue in our nation, and it goes way deeper than racism or corruption or whatever. There is a systemic issue here that needs dealt with and who should deal with it? The government - because they do a great job of changing the human heart. The protesters? The police?
    Who should deal with the systemic issue of the human heart? What if all this shaking up right now is more about shaking up the Church than anything else?
    We want everything to get back to normal so that we can get on with our lives. But what if God is shaking things up because he's trying to teach us something? He's trying to get our attention, trying to wake up the Church? What if God is saying let this trial have its full effect?
    Let’s switch gears a little bit.
    James 1:19–21 ESV
    Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
    Proverbs 17:27–28 ESV
    Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
    What does it mean to hear someone - to listen to them? It means to take as much time as is needed to understand what someone else mean.
    Question: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being great), how well do you hear other people?
    Sometime today, ask another person to answer that for you.
    In a coaching conversation if you said a five, I would ask how you can make that a 6 or 7.
    Question: How well do you hear other people who are different than you, who disagree with you, who don't see the world like you do?
    Question: How well do you hear other people whose shoes you have never walked in?
    Listen, there are about 7.8 billion pairs of shoes in this world (i.e. population).
    Question: How many of those shoes have you walked in?
    Of the 7.8 billion pairs of shoes in this world, I have only walked in one pair - my own. I probably need to do a better job of listening to people whose shoes I've never walked in.
    Question: Who needs you right now to hear them?
    Question: What will you do to hear them?
    Let’s switch gears again - go in a different direction.
    The world wants people to choose sides. The world does not leave a lot of room for other options. The world will try to force people into one side or the other. You're either for Blacks or you're against them. You're either for cops or you're against them. You're either for the LGBTQ or you're against them. That's not true , but that is how the world operates.
    They don't leave a lot of room to walk a middle road - a rational road - narrow road. A road that says love your enemy - bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. A road that says pray for those who hate you and mistreat you. A road that says walk in humility and in repentance. A road that says mercy triumphs over judgment. A road that says the first must be last and the last must be first. A road that says we are to think more highly of others than we think of ourselves. A road that says live in harmony with one another and be willing to associate with people of low position. A road that says do not repay evil with evil, but as far as it depends upon you live at peace with all people. A road that says there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, no male and female, for all are one at the cross of Christ Jesus. At the cross we are all equal, all at the same level, all in need of grace and there is no room for division or favoritism or exclusion. That is the narrow road that Christians are to walk upon.
    Question: What is challenging for you about a middle road?
    What fears might you have of walking a middle road?
    Question: What’s the worst thing that could happen? What is the best?
    2 Corinthians 5:18–20 ESV
    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
    We are told that on the cross Jesus Christ paid a price with His blood and body to reconcile the world to God. He then gave the Church, Christians the ministry of reconciliation. And what is the ministry of reconciliation? It’s standing at the foot of the cross and then reaching out two opposing sides and pulling them in to the love and grace that is in Jesus Christ. The ministry of reconciliation means that the Church of Jesus walks the narrow road - we stand in the gap between Blacks and Whites, Latinos and Asians, between police officers and anarchists and we draw them to the cross.
    Question: What are two or three things you can do to stand in the gap?
    Rather than trying to prove one side is right or wrong, what can we do to bring people to the cross?
    Closing - Micah 6:8
      • James 1:2–4ESV

      • James 1:19–21ESV

      • Proverbs 17:27–28NLT

      • 2 Corinthians 5:18–20ESV

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