Cost of Discipleship chapter 2

Bonhoeffer. Blog week 2 Costly Discipleship

 

When grace is cheap, discipleship is easy.  Less and less accountability for spiritual growth turns the church into more of a political institution than a transforming spiritual vessel.  The church becomes so busy with accommodating, it forgets its purpose.  To survive, the church has to bring in money to pay the bills.  The people with the most money push leaders to compromise.  To keep the cathedral open, leaders compromise or turn a blind eye to those who are pushing their own agenda and not God’s, leaving room for sin to get a foothold.  Those who compromise cannot understand that a new compromise is just around the corner, and those who see the ploy for what it is get frustrated and quit.  So who do you side with?  Side with those who have a personal agenda and you keep the doors open singing Amazing Grace until you retire.  Side with those who will not compromise the Gospel and you lose the cathedral status and position.   This is how the church in Germany failed.  It chose to compromise with money and power, to keep the cathedrals.  In the end Germany lost both the Cathedrals and spiritual integrity.  Evil overran the church.

 

So, for the church to maintain integrity, it must be in union with the gospel of the New Testament.  This is not the cheap grace being peddled on TV or in most mainline churches.  The good news of Christ is simply, “you must take up a cross.”  Any discipleship that is not sacrificial is not of the gospel of Jesus.  It is a gospel with its own agenda.  Being a Christian was never meant to be free or easy; and though God loves us, He never intended us to stay just as we are.  Real change for the church cannot be separated from pain.  The church in America has too long been tied to cathedrals.  The real gospel compels us to something new.  The day of multi million dollar debt to create cathedrals is over in America.  The new church will not be connected to land or buildings.  Those buildings will one day be turned into institutional warehouses that exist to take care of the lower classes or just bulldozed.  And how do I know this?  History repeats itself.



Cost of Discipleship – Chapter 1

For a man who dreams of great things, this was not a good idea, at least not at first.  I thought I would set aside a day to meditate on the life and letters of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who gave his life in opposition to the evils of the Third Reich.  And rather than simply read, I chose to think, to enter into a decision.  I wanted to know how he could deliberately leave the relative safety of England and return straight into the lion’s mouth.  He knew Hitler would imprison and eventually execute him.  So Friday I took my kayak into Tampa bay to enter in.  This was not a good idea.  I took only two thoughts: “when in the fullness of tasks, questions, success or ill-hap, experiences and perplexities, a man throws himself into the arms of God…then he wakes with Christ in Gethsemane.  That is faith.”  That alone took me to humility.   The most difficult decision I made last week was what color would the floors in the church hall be?  Not quite Gethsemane.  I long for great things, heroic tasks, grand faith.

 

Now add this to the second thought, “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.”  Cheap grace is what we see mostly here in America:  the gift that keeps on giving and allows tolerances for evil, compromising with evil until grace is pushed aside.  Bonhoeffer says it was this cheap grace that made room for Hitler and National Socialism.  Bonhoeffer said it would take discipleship of a great cost to overcome.  So he returned to Germany to die with his people and for His Lord, that in death, Christ would win.

 

So I took the kayak to see how I might enter in to this decision only to be humbled by the decision of great faith.  How can I, in ordinary things, find such great faith?  Then I caught a fish, and another, and another.  Fifty fish later I had almost been able to forget that catching fish is a fleeting pleasure.  And it was time to paddle in….I had been able to avoid the obvious.  I am not Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Part of me, the faith part, wishes I were.  But the rest of me wonders, “would I go to the gallows, intentionally?”

 

No doubt it was a beautiful day on Tampa Bay, iced tea to quench my thirst and sea trout to distract my mind.  And for a short time distraction won.  Yet I cannot escape the humble decision Bonhoeffer made to return to his people.  There is little doubt that passion for God is what compelled Bonhoeffer to return.  Passion drove him.

Bonhoeffer Chapter One



Epiphany

Epiphany

 

January 6 has come and gone and now is when most folks take down their trees and decorations.  Epiphany in the Western Church remembers the visit of the wise men to the Christ child, bearing worldly gifts for a heavenly king.  An epiphany is a manifestation of God, a time when God became real to us, or in the case of Christmas, became flesh for us.  The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on when God revealed Himself to you and to anticipate that He will do it again.  If God were to visit you again, what might He say?  Turn around?  Well done?  Get up?  Strengthen your hands?  These are all things he has said to someone.

 

As we begin 2014, what might God say to Wesley?  Let’s go!  Move forward!  I love what you’ve done with the place.  I hope and pray God’s richest blessing on us this year.  Our focus this year can be summed in a single phrase from 1 John, “Love one another.”



Pastor’s Blog 3-19-2013

OUR LENTEN JOURNEY WITH JESUS- Pastor Clark

One of my favorite times of the year is the season of Lent as we journey towards the Cross and the Easter Sunday Celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. During this Lenten Season we have been reviewing the steps of Jesus as he traveled the road to the Cross. Over the past several Sundays we have walked with Jesus as he journeyed to the River Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. We celebrated our own baptism by placing our hands in the baptismal fount and hearing the words, “Remember your baptism” .

We then journeyed with Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by Satan. We spoke of the meaning of the three temptations and heard the words of Jesus as he resisted those temptations. We were reminded that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” We may live in the World but we do not have to be “of the World”. Through the power of Christ we can rise above those temptations that seek to defeat us!

We then came out of the Wilderness and saw the “healing  power” of Christ as he went about “touching & healing “ all those who came to him. We also saw the struggle of Jesus as he proclaimed the words of Isaiah “The spirit of the Lord is upon me , because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

We then traveled with Jesus to the mountains and heard him proclaim the Kingdom of God was at hand and we learned how we too are “kingdom” people called to proclaim the word of God! What a great message we have to proclaim to the whole universe!

We then got into a boat and traveled with Jesus across the sea of Galilee and heard him speak “Peace be still” and the wind and waves obeyed his word! We learned how when we have storms come up in our lives we have a Savior who can bring calmness to our lives and gives us assurance of his presence with us!

This past Sunday we spoke of Sinners, Outcasts, and the Poor and how Jesus reaches out to all people of every station in life and seeks to restore us all to a right relationship with the Father in Heaven. We looked at the life of Matthew the tax collector and Jesus calling of him to “come follow me”. We also spoke of how Jesus reached out to the Lepers and other outcast of society and brought healing and wholeness to them and included them as part of his kingdom! Our calling as disciples is to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus in our communities.  His grace is abundant for all!

This coming Sunday our Chancel Choir will lead us in a beautiful presentation of “On a Hill Too far Away”. They will be presenting this at both the 9:00 am service and the 11:15 am service. Be sure to invite your friends and family to come join us for these services.

Then we continue Holy Week with the Wednesday night movie, “The Passion of the Christ” , Thursday night , the Stations of the Cross and on Friday night , a Good Friday Service and then on to Easter Sunday with our Sunrise Service and two special Easter services . I pray you will join me on the Journey!