Grounded in heritage: Reaching out with the love of Jesus
Pastor Rosemary and Joe
Partners in Ministry
A Fertile Heart March 18, 2018
March 19th, 2018
A Fertile Heart
Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:20-33
(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)
John Wesley wrote to his people called Methodist the following Rule of Conduct: Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.
How did John Wesley come to believe and write these words, and to live them out in his life? John’s heart had become fertile ground because of the way he was raised and nurtured, so when those seeds of faith were planted, they grew and flourished in ways which brought people to Jesus. And in ways which established the Methodist Church, which this body of Christ is a part of.
In last week’s sermon I reaffirmed what I often say; ‘We are today whom we have been.’ The way we were raised and nurtured, the words spoken to us and the things done to us, what we’ve experienced up until this moment; all influence who we are. I hope you had a chance to watch the segment Oprah Winfrey did on 60 Minutes about the work being done in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She confirmed her epiphany of realizing that instead of saying, ‘What’s wrong with that child?’, we should be asking ourselves, ‘What happened to that child?’
What happened to John Wesley that made him the man he became? For John Wesley, his heart became fertile ground for those seeds of faith to be planted simply because of the way he was raised, nurtured and educated. He was loved and disciplined by his mother Susanna Wesley, in such a way that the seeds of faith and service could be planted and grow.
John was expected to become proficient in Latin and Greek and to have learned major portions of the New Testament by heart. Susanna Wesley examined each of her children before the midday meal and before evening prayers. Children were not allowed to eat between meals and were interviewed singularly by their mother one evening each week for the purpose of intensive spiritual instruction. For John and his 8 brothers and sisters, their hearts became fertile ground because of their mother Susanna. Fertile ground where seeds of faith would continue to grow and the result would be the Methodist church.
Every year at this time my mother starts seeds indoors to be planted in the garden when the threat of frost is over. She also plants vegetable and flower seeds directly in the garden. It always amazes her and many of us, how you can plant this little seed and it grows into plants which may delight our eyes with the beauty of flowers; or delight our taste with vegetables or fruit.
Botanically, we know quite a bit about seeds and how they germinate. We know that a seed consists of a protective seed coat, some kind of storage tissue with nutrient reserves, and a dormant plant embryo. We further know that under the correct conditions the dormant embryo can be “awakened” to germinate and grow into a mature plant. Some Botanists say that in every seed there is an on/off switch that will let the seed grow. In reality, that seed has to be planted in the ground and die to what it has been in order to become what God created it to be.
At some point the seed is turned “on” and it begins to sprout. In time, what was once a seed is transformed into a flower, fruit, vegetable, or grain. Jesus used this illustration of wheat being buried in the fertile ground, in our gospel reading today. In order for that seed to grow, the ground has to receive it and nurture it. Before we look at Jesus’ words, let us examine how our heart can become fertile ground for those seeds of faith to grow.
The Lord says to the prophet Jeremiah that He will make a New Covenant with the people. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, God says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” That New Covenant will be Jesus Christ, God’s One and Only Son.
When we receive Jesus into our heart, our heart becomes the fertile ground for seeds of faith to grow. Without Jesus, our heart remains barren, where nothing can grow and our natural sinful inclination of human selfishness continues to reign. Without Jesus, our heart remains empty and unfulfilled. Many unbelievers do not recognize this emptiness because their heart is filled with the things of this world. Yet Jesus tells us the things of this world will not give us abundant life now, nor eternal life when we die our earthly death.
We read in John 12:24-25, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world, will keep it for eternal life.”
Joe Gibbs, the coach of the Washington Redskins when they won the Super bowl in 1992, knew that without Jesus in our heart there is a vacuum, an emptiness.
In 1992, the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl with an explosive victory over the Buffalo Bills. Seventy-five thousand people gathered on the mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument to cheer their team and Coach. Four days later, Chuck Colson called the Redskins’ office to see if any football players could attend a rally at a prison the next day. Many of the players had given their life to Christ. Joe Gibbs, the head coach, answered the phone and told Colson that all the players had left the city for a well-deserved rest. With his characteristic humility, Joe Gibbs asked Colson, “Will I do?”
Colson immediately accepted the offer by the coach of the championship Washington Redskins. Five days after winning the Super Bowl, Joe Gibbs could have opened any door in Washington DC but he was willing to walk behind the locked steel doors of the penitentiary for the District of Columbia to speak to men about his faith in Christ.
Joe Gibbs stood up to speak to the cheers, whistles and applause of 500 prisoners five days after he had won the most prestigious event in pro sports.
He told those men: “A lot of people in the world would probably look at me and say: Man, if I could just coach in the Super Bowl, I’d be happy and fulfilled… But I’m here to tell you, it takes something else in your life besides money, position, football, power, and fame.
The vacuum in each of our lives can only be filled through a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I’m telling you, we’ll spend the rest of our lives in a meaningless existence. I’ve seen it in football players’ eyes, and I’ve seen it in men who are on their deathbed. There’s nothing else that will fill the vacuum.”*
I echo Joe Gibbs’ statement. I too have seen the emptiness in the eyes of people who cling to their ‘this world life.’ They are devasted when they lose their health, their money, their job, their position, power and success. I’ve witnessed deaths where there was no faith in a life beyond the grave. The fear and desperation in their eyes is hopelessness. They have lived a meaningless existence and now they have no hope of what is to come.
I was called into Long Term Care in Ontonagon to pray over a woman who had no family and no faith. She was unconscious and in her last minutes of life. As I began to pray, she began to moan and twist and turn in her bed and a cold dark presence was in that room. I continued to pray and she began to calm down, but as I left, there was still a shadowy presence. She died about an hour after I left her room. I do not know to this day if she ended up in heaven or hell.
This is why I believe so strongly in our Christian Kids’ Club, our Christian education for children and youth. We may not know what goes on behind the closed doors of the children’s homes, but we have influence over them for 2 hours every week. If they attend summer camp at Camp Michigamme, we have another chance to create fertile hearts in which the seeds of faith can be planted and grow; fertile hearts that are nurtured in God’s love.
Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” I believe this meant not only lifted up on the cross in His crucifixion, but also lifted from the grave in His resurrection, which is the cornerstone of our faith, as well as lifted up when He ascended back to His home in heaven.
If we do not teach the children about Jesus’ sacrifice of love for all people’s sins, who will? Yet the sacrifice of living for the world, must be the first to go, in us and in the ones we teach. We have to ‘die to self’ in order to have a fertile heart where seeds of faith can grow.
A fertile heart is one which has bowed before Jesus and confessed. ‘I am a sinner, Lord Jesus. Forgive me for my sins. I give you my heart. Take it and mold me into the person you created me to be. I chose to die to self that I may live for you. Help me to witness to others what it means to live for you and not for the things of this world. Amen’
Pastor Rosemary DeHut March 18, 2018
References: *Billy D. Strayhorn, From the Pulpit, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
March 19th, 2018
We Are Loved; Not Condemned March 11, 2018
March 13th, 2018
We Are Loved; Not Condemned
Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
Oprah Winfrey is shifting her perspective on how childhood trauma impacts people’s lives. For today’s, March 11, “60 Minutes,” Winfrey traveled to Milwaukee, where she grew up, to learn about a revolutionary approach in the city to early trauma. She spoke to Dr. Bruce Perry, a world-renowned expert in the field who has treated survivors of high-profile events like the Columbine shooting. He said a child’s brain gets wired “differently” when they’re raised in a chaotic or violent environment.
“If you have developmental trauma, the truth is you’re going to be at risk for almost any kind of physical health, mental health, social health problem that you can think of,” Perry told Winfrey.
Winfrey said she believes the conversation could be a ‘game changer.’ “This story is so important to me and I believe to our culture that if I could dance on the tabletops right now to get people to pay attention to it, I would. It has definitively changed the way I see people in the world, and it has definitively changed the way I will now be operating my school in South Africa and going forward with any philanthropic efforts that I’m engaged in,” she said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”
“What I recognize is that a lot of people working in the philanthropic world, who are trying to help disadvantaged, challenged people from backgrounds that have been disenfranchised, are working on the wrong thing,” Winfrey added.
“While there have been plenty of job and training programs to help the disadvantaged,” Winfrey said, “If you don’t fix ‘the hole in the soul,’ the thing that is where the wounds started, you’re working at the wrong thing.”
The shift in perspective comes down to what Winfrey calls a ‘life-changing question.’ “See, we go through life and we see kids who are misbehaving. ‘You juvenile delinquents,’ we label them. And really the question that we should be asking is not ‘what’s wrong with that child’ but ‘what happened to that child?’ And then have the resources to be able to address what happened to them. The most important question you can ask of anybody, which is what I now say even for the Parkland [school] shooting – instead of what’s the matter with that kid, I say what happened to that child?”
As a result of her reporting, she said she went back to her school board [in South Africa] and said, “Hey, we’ve been doing it all wrong. We need to be a trauma-informed care institution.”
CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King pointed out that this was a personal story for Winfrey herself. “Number one, it’s in Milwaukee where you were raised. You certainly suffered trauma there. You weren’t physically abused in your home, but you talk very candidly about –” King started.
“I got enough whippings to call it [abuse]– we just didn’t call it physical abuse at the time,” Winfrey said. “Today I would have to report my mama.”
“Today it would be. But you’ve certainly been very candid about the sexual abuse. And a lot of these kids suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I marvel, Oprah, with the environment you grew up in, that you don’t seem to have suffered from PTSD. Are you rethinking that?” King asked.
“No, I – I definitely do not have PTSD,” Winfrey responded. She said she asked Perry why some people like herself, “raised in chaotic environments,” turned out OK.
He told me it’s directly proportional to relationships. So, he was saying for me, for instance, it was school. I found my refuge in school,” Winfrey said. “I found my place in school from teachers. So, everybody needs somebody growing up that says, ‘I believe in you, you’re OK, things are going to be all right.’ And that can be a teacher, that can be a coach, that can be somebody in Sunday school.”
Years ago, Parade magazine featured an interview with comedian Steve Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, on their many years together in marriage. Much of the article focused on Steve’s unstable and dysfunctional family background. In a final comment about his childhood, Jayne said, “We are who we are because of where we’ve been.”
Often, you hear me say, ‘In this very moment in time, we are whom we have been.’ What happened to us in our past; the words spoken to us, the things done to us, the decisions made and the lessons learned, have made us who we are right now.
Psychologists tell us that by the time we reach two years of age, 50 percent of what we ever believe about ourselves has been formed. Think about how you were raised, and how you raised your children. Think of the importance of those first two years of life. By the age of six, 60 percent of our self‑belief has been established, and by the age of eight, about 80 percent. By the time we reach the age of fourteen, over 99 percent of us have a well‑developed sense, either correctly or incorrectly, of who we are.
In ministry I meet people who just can’t overcome what has happened to them in the past. They have learned to manipulate other people, simply to survive. Early on, I judged them harshly. Through the years I have learned to look at people as God looks on His ‘Created in His image’ human beings. I’ve learned to look at others with love.
John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
This is our focus for today. We are loved, not condemned! Some adults were raised in homes where they heard angry hurtful words, spoken to them or to the people they love. Some have been raised in homes where they were abused; physically, and sometimes sexually. Or maybe they were abused by an authority figure outside their home; a teacher, a priest or pastor, a coach. These adults only know what they have experienced, so they raise their children and treat others the same way.
Men who do the prison ministry tell of prisoners who have never been told they were loved, by the people in their life, or by God, and some who have never even had a birthday party. The Keryx (prison) ministry, does both. They tell the men that God loves them, He isn’t a condemning God. When they ask forgiveness, by God’s grace it is granted. And they have one big birthday cake that they write all the prisoners’ names on and sing Happy Birthday to them. They also demonstrate their love for the prisoners, by spending their weekend with them, and many prisoners recognize that as being a demonstration of God’s love living through the men who come in from the outside. It is this kind of sacrificial love which will break the chains of sin that bind the hearts of the men in prison.
They may still have to suffer the consequences of the sinful crimes they have committed, yet when they ask forgiveness and receive it through the grace of God, they discover a freedom which repairs the, ‘hole in their soul’ as Oprah put it.
The people of Israel, who Moses was leading to freedom from their slavery in Egypt, were a sinful complaining people. They were traveling to the promised land, and they began once again to complain. Numbers 21:5-6, ‘They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.’
The Israelites repented, asked God’s forgiveness. God forgave them and gave them a way to be healed from the bite of the poisonous snakes. “The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
God readily forgave their sin by having them look up towards Him. Jesus tells us in John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” This is just what happened. Jesus was crucified being lifted up on the cross. And those who believe Jesus gave His life for them; and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and God raised Him from the dead, will be saved! Saved from death and given eternal life! Eternal life is complete healing!
Every time I am tempted to judge and condemn someone, I remember Billy Graham’s quote, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” I try to live my life and do my ministry by this mantra.
People are whom they have been. Each of us has a past that made us who we are today. I agree with Oprah Winfrey, we must ask ourselves, ‘what kind of environment did that person grow up in? What happened to this person as a child? We cannot change people’s past, yet we can change their future by loving them with the love of God, rather than condemning them.
The Apostle Paul, was the Pharisee Saul, who condemned followers of Jesus, until Jesus brought him to his knees on the road to Damascus. As Paul he wrote to the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
May we be the church who encourages one another, who loves one another as God loves us. May we be the church who does not judge or condemn, but a church who loves!
Preacher, theologian, and Christian writer Fred Craddock tells the story of his father, who spent years of his life hiding from the God who was seeking him out:
“When the pastor used to come from my mother’s church to call on him, my father would say, ‘You don’t care about me. I know how churches are. You want another pledge, another name, right? Another name, another pledge, isn’t that the whole point of church?
My nervous mother would run to the kitchen, crying, for fear somebody’s feelings would be hurt. I guess I heard it a thousand times.
One time he didn’t say it. He was at the Veteran’s Hospital. He was down to 74 pounds. They had taken out his throat, put in a metal tube, and said, ‘Mr. Craddock, you should have come earlier. But this cancer is awfully far advanced. We’ll give radium, but we don’t know.’
I went in to see him. In every window—potted plants and flowers. Everywhere there was a place to set them—potted plants and flowers. Even in that thing that swings out over your bed they put food on, there was a big flower. There was by his bed a stack of cards 10 or 15 inches deep. I looked at the cards sprinkled in the flowers. I read the cards beside his bed. And I want to tell you, that every card, every blossom, every potted plant from groups; Sunday School classes, women’s groups, youth groups, men’s bible class, were from my mother’s church—every one of them. My father saw me reading them. He could not speak, but he took a Kleenex box and wrote something on the side from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. . . . He wrote on the side, ‘In this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.’ I said, ‘What is your story, Daddy?’ And he wrote, ‘I was wrong.’”
May we be a church like this. May we also speak encouraging words to the young people in our lives. Remember, we do not know what goes on behind the doors of their homes, or what they have experienced in their life.
Some years ago, the great boxer, Mohammed Ali, was asked by a ghetto youth how he could quit college and start a boxing career since he had bad grades. Ali smiled at the young man and said in his poetic fashion: “Stay in college and get the knowledge, and stay there! Til you’re through. Cause if God can make penicillin out of moldy bread, He can make something out of you.”
This is the good news of John 3. Because God so loved the world, He sent His only son to make something out of us through His love. Not to condemn us. When we accept Him into our lives and commit our hearts to Him, then He gives us new life in this world – and new life in the world to come.
May we believe, live out in our lives, and share this truth: We are loved and not condemned.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
March 11, 2018
March 13th, 2018
Turning the Tables, March 4, 2018
March 5th, 2018
Turning the Tables
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and John 2:13-22
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
The man stood before the crucifix in the chapel. The crucifix did not hold a Savior who was emaciated and weak. The Jesus hanging on the cross had huge muscles in His arms and His legs. He was a Savior who conquered Satan, who conquered sin and death. While the man stood there weeping, another man who was in the chapel, saw a glow emanating from him and surrounding him with light.
Joe, my husband and partner in ministry, is passionate about doing the Keryx, prison ministry at the Marquette branch prison. The Keryx is now done in Level 1 through 4. It used to be done in Level 5, which is the level for the hardened criminals, the lifers. He went to the first meeting for the spring Keryx, this past week. One of the men who used to do the Keryx in level 5 was at the meeting. He shared this story at the meeting which Joe shared with me. When I thought about the scripture passages for today, it seemed to me a good illustration of ‘turning the tables.’ Turning the tables on Satan.
In the chapel in Level 5 there is a crucifix made by a prisoner. The crucifix is hewn out of stone. The Jesus hanging on the cross represents the power of God. The man who carved the crucifix understood that the Son of the Almighty God was not weak, but rather His victory over sin and death came because He was the Almighty God, yet fully human. It was the strength, which came from His love for all mankind, which held Him on the cross, and conquered sin and death.
Sunday, the end of the 72 hours of the Keryx ministry, the prisoners have a chance to share what the weekend has meant to them. As this man, who had wept before the crucifix in the chapel, began to share; the man who had witnessed what happened in the chapel heard a noise behind him. He turned to see a huge wave, which knocked some of the prisoners over as it came over them. A wave of Holy Spirit power went through the room and washed over the man sharing his story!
True illustrations, such as this, keep encouraging Christians who are called to share their faith with those who are still lost and suffering from sin. Jesus has the power to turn the tables on Satan’s influence in our lives!
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”’ Paul knew this from Isaiah 29:14. God is telling the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder, the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
The Apostle Paul, had come to understand that God’s way of thinking is not like the world’s way of thinking, human wisdom. God offers eternal life, which the world can never give, yet many humans think they have God all figured out. God tells the prophet Isaiah in chapter 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Paul goes on to write, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, —” (v. 22-23) The Jews had been looking for the Messiah to be like King David, a warrior king. They could not understand that Jesus was the Messiah, with their worldly wisdom. Besides Jesus was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior? The Greeks considered the resurrection of Jesus foolish. They did not believe in bodily resurrection. They did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified. To them death was defeat, not victory.
Do you see how the cross turns the tables on human wisdom? We are simply not able to comprehend a love so strong, that our God would die for us! No other worldly religion basis their faith on a God willing to die for them.
Jesus begins to turn the tables on Satan’s influence on humans when He clears the Temple. To turn the table is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘to change your position from one who is disadvantaged, to one who has the advantage.
Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate the week-long holiday of the ‘Feast of Unleavened Bread,’ which included a Passover meal. It was during this time that the temple tax must be paid, which would bring money changers to the temple to change the money of people from out of town. They of course, charged exorbitant exchange rates. The people would then buy the animals needed to make their sacrificial offering, and only the animals sold in the market place of the temple were good enough. The sellers could charge anything they wanted. The Temple courts had become a den of robbers and thieves.
Jesus became angry at the abuses going on in the Temple, His Father’s house, the place of worship. ‘In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (vv. 14-16)
It was at this point that the tables began to turn against Jesus. He became the disadvantaged one. Up until this point in time, Jesus had just been an irritation to the Jewish leaders. Now all that was about to change. Yet being the disadvantaged one would not last. Jesus would soon turn the tables and have the advantage.
When Jesus declares in verse 19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,” The Jewish leaders think he is talking about the Temple in Jerusalem. The disciples would remember that Jesus said this, and verse 22 tells us, “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
Do you see what happened here? Jesus, the Son of the One True God, allowed himself to be beaten and crucified, that he might turn the tables on Satan, once and for all time. When they buried Jesus in the tomb, they believed Jesus’ life was over. God raised him from the dead three days later, and from that moment and for all time, believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the faith that God was raised him from the dead; have the advantage over Satan’s influence in our lives.
Sin has no power over the ones who come humbly before Jesus, and declare, ‘I am a sinner. I confess my sins before you and ask forgiveness. I give you my heart and my life. I want the Holy Spirit’s power to come like a wave over me and wash me clean. Please guide my life from this moment on.’
In some churches Jesus still hangs on the cross. In protestant churches our cross is empty. We celebrate the Risen Savior. From now on whenever I look upon a cross whether an empty cross or a crucifix, Jesus hanging on the cross, I will envision, not a weak and emaciated Savior, but one with huge muscles in his arms and legs. I will envision a Savior who turned the tables on Satan’s influence over my life. I pray you will do the same.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice of love. Thank you that you humbly suffered and died on the cross to turn the tables on sin and death. I thank you that with your mighty power, you claimed victory over Satan. All praise and glory be to you! Amen
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
March 4, 2018
March 5th, 2018
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Sunday Service 11:00 A.M. Central Time (nursery available)
Phone Number: 906-932-3900
Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut
Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays
~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~