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2019-07-28 Persistence Is Never Futile

By Sermons

Last week we revisited the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. Wow. (You may listen to the message, Mary, Martha, and the Moon, just below on this page.) This week, we hear Jesus teach his followers a prayer. We refer to it as The Lord’s Prayer, but is it the “Lord’s” prayer”? Maybe it should have been called the Disciple’s Prayer, but the Prayer, whatever its title, is a common-sounding prayer. What made the Prayer unique was not it content, but to whom it was addressed. No rabbi in Jesus time, or before or since, would have started any prayer referring to God as “Daddy”! That’s right. “Our Father…” is the term “Daddy” and Jesus shocked his listeners who were not used to having such a personal relationship with the Creator! What’s more, after Jesus’ outrageous prayer lesson, he tells a few stories that encouraged the disciples to even be persistent in prayer, courageous in prayer, with God. Now that’s shocking!

Become a part of Jesus’ prayer lesson and learn about why Persistence Is Never Futile when we are connected to the Jesus Force this week the Red Brick Church. You’ll want to bring along a few friends to worship with you, too! Everyone’s welcome!

2019-05-12 Message- Rock For All, Get Up And Represent Jesus

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Our Easter celebration continues this week as we consider Jesus as the Rock for All… people, ages, situations, neighborhoods, and anyone, or anything else, that needs a solid foundation on which to build something of meaning, something that lasts. We live in an age that tends to slap a universal and derogatory label on an entire group with information generalized from random or isolated experiences. We call this stereotyping or profiling. You can probably think of many examples. Maybe you’ve been stereotyped. Go on Yahoo and do a search asking the open-ended question, “Why are Christians so . . ..” The search engine produced some startling responses: Why are Christians…

“so judgmental”

“so hateful”

“so fake”

“so afraid of Muslims”

“so mean”

“so intolerant”

“so annoying”

“so self-righteous”

“so unhappy”

Do see yourself and those around you embodying those attributes? Probably not! Is this how the world truly sees those who call themselves “Christian?” How do these opinions become generalized, that the some see us this way? Is the world becoming biased towards Christians? Maybe. But, in what ways have we done this to ourselves? It is true that Christians have done some very bad things. Its also true that  millions of Christians face persecutions for their faith every day, with many losing their lives every year for following Jesus. This week, we Get Up and represent Jesus, each in our own unique ways. We will explore our own foundation on the Rock and how we can let Jesus shine through our lives every day. Let’s ensure that greater Cape May knows we stand on the Rock because where Jesus is present, life is at its best, for all. (Thanks to my colleague, Dr. Len Sweet, for the search term idea!)

2019-04-21 Easter Sunrise Message- Where Do You Put the Fear

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What did the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead mean to two fearful disciples on the road to Emmaus? Find out at Sunset Beach when we gather at 6:15 AM for our third annual sunrise service on the deck at the Grill. Uplifting music, message, and great breakfast refreshments will help you start your day in joy!

2019-04-14 Message- The Home Stretch, From Palms to Passion

By Sermons

According to the World Happiness Report 2018released last week, Finland is top of the world for happiness, closely followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Four out of the top five spots are Nordic, and are well known to be stable, safe and socially progressive. The Happiness Report measures a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)(money matters), Longevity(people like living longer), Corruption(If citizens don’t trust government and business, they’re not happy), Social Support(you know others have your back and support), and Freedom (making your own important life choices is better than the government telling you what to do). People who live in a nation that scores high in GDP, Longevity, Social Support, and Freedom, but low in Corruption, likely have a better life experience than those that live in an under-performing nation. And if you‘re wondering, the United States ranked 18th out of 52 nations surveyed.

We prefer to feel happy. Happy is good. People in Jesus’ time also wanted to feel happy. That’s why many devotees of Jesus (not just the disciples) clamored for Jesus to take over their nation. This week is Palm Sunday where we will begin our “feel good” happy time when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem as the new King. But, after only a few days, the political climate shifts unexpectedly as Jesus goes from Palms to Passion. Passion refers to Jesus’ suffering as he is betrayed, denied, arrested, tortured, ridiculed, slandered, and (without a real trial) is sent to death row. By Friday, Jesus is dead. All hope was lost. Or, was it?

If there was such a thing as a World Happiness Report 33 (yes, AD 33!), the people in Palestine would have been at the lowest ranking. GDP was down (the religious leaders controlled the dysfunctional economy). The average life expectancy in Jesus day was about 45. Corruption affected every sphere of life from the Temple, to politics, to the trades. Social Support was spotty at best but the generation family systems had its advantages over our more modern nuclear family today, that is is you weren’t female, young, poor, sick, or had a physical difference. And what about Freedom? Simply, what freedom. Rome was the occupying political power and squashed personal freedoms, especially those of a different political party or who didn’t play and pay by their rules.

This week we follow Jesus as the Lenten Journey is in the Home Stretch with a message titled,  TheHome Stretch—From Palms to Passion. You will participate in an interactive reading of the Palmsscripture reading along side the Passionscripture reading and make up your own mind about Jesus and happiness.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

2019-04-14 Message for Kids- The Singing Stones

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Did you know stones could sing? Yes, they can! When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was welcomed as King. People were pretty excited, it was a red carpet experience that everyone celebrated. Well, almost everyone. A group of fake-religious leaders called Pharisees criticized Jesus and told him to stop the festivities! Imagine that. They wanted to stop the Jesus party. The children were singing, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!,” chanting this over, and over as God’s promises spoken long ago were being realized then and there. Jesus said, no way! Even if I told them to keep quiet, the stones themselves would start to sing! Yes, singing stones, because all creation, everything that God made, the universe and all that’s in it—including you!, are designed to enjoy God’s presence and sing God’s praises. Take a look in the special Holy Week burlap pouch… Look! Singing stones! Stones with words of Scripture on them. Would you pick one and read it to us so we can hear the stones sing? Read more stones. Go ahead, and choose your favorite stone and keep it as a reminder that God loves you and shows his love through you. God will help you to sing through your life as you follow Jesus, just like these stones. Blessed in the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

2019-03-24 Message- Gimme That Fish, Fig, Discipleship

By Sermons

Have you seen the new McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial? This humorous ad features a toy mechanical fish mounted on a wall who sings, “Gimme that fish, O Gimme that fish…” announcing the return of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. Have you ever wondered why the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich is so heavily promoted the same time every year? Hint: The special fish promotion always occurs during the 40 days of Lent. That’s right. It all started in a predominately Catholic neighborhood in Ohio when, in 1959, a McDonald’s franchise owner named Lou Groen noticed plummeting hamburger sales every Lenten season. Instead of just suffering through the 80% drop in sales, he decided to meet the needs of his customers by developing a non-meat alternative. The incredible success in delivering what his community needed is, as they say, history.

What does the Filet-O-Fish have to do with Jesus’ words about the fig tree from our text this week from Luke 13? As we will discover during this Sunday’s message titled, “Fish, Fig, Discipleship” the origin story of this popular sandwich can teach us a lot about our mission. You see, the fig tree Jesus spoke about was not producing the fruit the other crops needed, nothing for three years. But, instead of destroying the barren fig tree, the owner agreed to let the fig tree have one more year to deliver what was needed.

We know figs are remain a very popular fruit in the United States, but did you know that it was the abundant vitamins found in figs that motivated a Philadelphia baker in 1851 to produce a machine that could stuff the nutrient rich fig jam into pastry dough. Delivering what the community needed led a baking company to buy the machine and the cookies were a huge success. The town they were first produced was, you guessed it, Newton, Massachusetts!

Fish and figs can teach us a lot about discipleship as we follow Jesus during lent as we deliver spiritual nutrients our neighbors need.

2012-12-02 Message- The Lion and the Lamb in Advent Light

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Stretching for the limits? Is our faith experience a collection or facts, or a collection of connections? Life connections. When Jesus calls you and says, Follow me, are you ready to passionately just get up and follow, or do most of us just hold back a little because thats how we were taught. The Lion of Judah is leading into a future of hope. Let’s invest in that journey! Let’s try an experiment. Stretch your right arm up as far as you can. Now, reach further. Wow. Thanks. Did you notice that almost everyone reached further when asked. Why didn’t you reach at that far at the beginning? You can blame the inventor of the #2 pencil. We are not standardized, interchangeable parts on an assembly line of living. Do you know why the earliest teacher’s colleges were called Normal Schools? Because that’s all they expected!  They wanted everyone to be normal. But look around you this morning. Do you see normal? Of course not! Each one of us has that same inner light of Christ that shines in its own uniquely faceted beauty.

Who are you looking for this morning? A Lion or a Lamb? The Lion of Judah has your back. In fact, he’s leading you forward and you can be confident that Jesus the Lion of Judah will protect you into the future, though the future is uncertain and the sun and moon above may fall from the sky!

Jesus is also the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Maybe you need to meet the Lion. Or, the Lamb. Either way, let’s not hold back with that what we have been taught in school since the early 1900’s. Following Jesus is not done with a standard #2 pencil, as we answer standardized multiple-choice questions, so we can be the next interchangeable part for an assembly line called church. No! Church is not for normal people. You are not “standard!”

The Lion roars its invitation to a future of hope despite the sky falling and the uncertainties that abound! The Lamb has forgiven you of your past and freed you to live your very best self right now, and into the future. So let’s get up and go this Advent season. The light of Hope shines brightly and I can’t wait for what’s next!

2018-10-28 Message- UnCloaking the Masks Towards Transformation

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People don’t usually ask, “What costume are you going to wear for halloween?” No, instead we ask, “Who are you going to BE this year?” Halloween isn’t just about putting together a clever “costume.” It is about creating a personal “image.”

Mask wearing is always associated with this time of year for more than two millennia, and ironically, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther pulled the “mask” off of the Church when he posted his 95 complaints on the neighborhood billboard. He saw the Church hiding and pretending to be something very unlike Christ. Along with John Knox in Scotland, John Calvin in Switzerland, and other reformers, he fanned the flames of the Great Reformation across Europe.

We all wear masks, and some masks are authentic and appropriate ways for us to interact in the world. But some masks we wear mey help us hid or pretend to be something we are not and not be part of a costume, at all. In this week’s text from Mark 10:46-52, we meet a man named Bartimaeus who becomes “uncloaked.” He shows us that when we come “face-to-face” with Jesus, any mask or pretense must fall away and our most basic needs and desires are revealed to the Son of David who has the power to heal us and heal the world, transforming us to be our real selves.

Romans 8:29-30 The Message (MSG)

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.”

Now, that’s transformation!


2018-10-28 Message for Kids- Who You Are for Halloween, and for Real

By Sermons

Who are you on Halloween? You look costume looks great, by the way! What does your very cool image say about you? Bright colors? Character-like qualities? Stylizing for attention? Sure. All these things. If Jesus were to dress up for Halloween, who would he be? Well, he’d be who he was all the other days of his life, too. Jesus was authentic. He presented himself as he was. He treated everyone with dignity and respect. He showed amazing love for everyone, all the time, and in every context of life. The Bible says he is the true image of the invisible God. If we have seen Jesus, we have seen God! So this Halloween, be creative with your cloaks and masks. It’s good fun. But who we are for Halloween, and every other day of our year ahead, can also be who we are for real! A child of God who looks like Jesus. Be uniquely Christ for Halloween, and every other day!

2018-09-30 Message- Time for Living

By Sermons

Do you know what time it is? Just now, you likely paused to check. You may have looked to the clock on the wall, or the phone in your pocket. Maybe you raised your arm to glance at the watch on your wrist. Or called out, “Hey, Siri, what time is it?” You have your answer but what time is it, really? You’ve heard it said, “We have all the time in the world!” But have also been cautioned, “Time’s a’wasting.” How do we really know what time it is?

There’s an absolute atomic clock reference point that nations have agreed to recognize which essentially never varies. Our device’s time derives from this atomic standard. But Jesus wanted his followers to reconcile their life’s mission to a different clock: eternity. It includes everyone. It extends everywhere. Jesus wanted them to make time for living.

Our Bible journey continues in Mark 9:37-50, just after last week’s account when Jesus shockingly lifted a child to his lap and reminded his disciples that if greatness is one’s goal, serving others, especially children, must be the focus of one’s practice. Not skipping a beat, the disciples then smugly report that they condemned some outsiders for using Jesus’ name to heal people. How dare “outsiders” presume to do what “insiders” did! “What!?,” Jesus exclaimed as he scolded them, “Stop giving others a hard time!”

This week we’ll learn how to reset our clock to God’s time. Making time for living invites us to remove distractions, false reference points, and criticism of those who serve differently. What time is it? Its time to bless others and preserve the peace.