Monday, May 24, 2010

Time for A Revolution

"Time For A Revolution"

Pastor Leslie Tipton

May 23, 2010


The Revolutionary War in America (1775-1783) led to the birth of a new nation. The war began on April 19, 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

     For about a decade, tension had been mounting between Great Britain and the American Colonies. The British government had passed a series of laws in an attempt to increase control over the colonies. But Americans had become used to having control over their local government. They objected to the new laws and protested being taxed without their consent. In 1775, Britain's Parliament declared Massachusetts, the center of most of the protests, to be in rebellion. British troops were placed in Boston to take swift action against the rebels. Shortly afterwards, war broke out.

     The Colonies were largely unprepared for war. They lacked a central government and had neither an organized army nor navy. Delegates from the colonies formed the first Continental Congress, which took on the duties of a national government. Congress directed the war effort and voted to organize an army and a navy. George Washington, a wealthy Virginia landowner and former military officer, was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army. On July 4, 1776, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, in which the colonies declared their freedom from British rule.

     Tension had been building between Great Britain and the American Colonies for more than 10 years before the Revolutionary War began. Starting in the mid-1760's, the British government passed a series of laws to increase its control over the colonies. Americans had grown used to a large measure of self-government. They strongly resisted the new laws, especially tax laws. Fierce debate developed over the British Parliament's right to tax the colonies without their consent.

     Great Britain with its larger and better trained army and navy launched a huge land and sea effort to crush the revolution. However, they had to transport and supply its army across the Atlantic Ocean. As the war continued, the British won many battles but gained little from their victories. The American patriots always formed new forces and continued the fight. In 1783 the Treaty of Paris ended the war. Great Britain was forced to recognize the independence of the 13 colonies of the United States.

The Americans were feeling oppressed by the British rule…they wanted to be free from that oppression, free from the control, free from the rule of that other world, and so they declared it was time for a revolution.

It IS time for a revolution! It is time here, Church of the Holy SpiritSong, for a revolution.

We read in our Scripture today from Romans 12: 1-2 says; "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test approve what God's will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will."

It's time for a revolution in how, why, where, when we do this. See, 'cause we get stuck, don't we. We get stuck in the muck of this world, or should I say the patterns of this world. And to get unstuck, we gotta get revolutionary in our thinking. We gotta shake free from the oppression, just like the newly declared Americans, and walk in freedom in our lives.


What am I talkin' about? You wanna know…..ok, here we go.

It's time for a revolution in our service to God. Now, we just read it, but I'm gonna remind you right now……offer your bodies a living sacrifice. I want you to say that with me now…..offer your bodies a living sacrifice. Let's say it again. "Offer your bodies a living sacrifice." What does that mean? Are we gonna go climb up on the altar, each one of us, one by one, and be offered. Ok, now that I've completely freaked out our new visitors, please allow me to explain.

Flip over to the Book of Matthew, Chapter 4; beginning at verse 18: "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fisher of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him."

So here we have two brothers fishing together. Isn't it a nice story, how they were spending time together on the weekend, during their off time, to be with each other and have a time of leisurely fishing? Just to go and drop a line into the water, kick back with a brewski, feet up, radio on, lazy yellow dog laying at their feet while they chat about the week's events? And then along comes Jesus…."Hey fellas, come on along with me."

No, they weren't fishing to relax, they were fishing to earn money and to feed their families. There were working…..they were laboring; they were trying to make a living. And then along comes Jesus and says "Stop what you're doing, and come and follow me." And the Bible says "At once, they left their nets and followed him." Further on Jesus sees two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father. Matthew 4: 21-22 says "Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

It's time for a revolution in our service to God. If Jesus were to walk in here right now, through that door, and say "Come on, everyone here, come and follow me," how would we respond? Some of us would jump right up and run to Him in worship, and some of us would hesitate to make sure He really is who He says He is, and some of us would slowly saunter up to Him and say "What's in it for me," or "How long is this going to take," or "No thanks, I'm not interested."

Which one are you? At times, I'm all of them… be honest with you, depending on what's going on in my life, my response varies.

Let's be honest…that's all of us!

But it's time for a revolution.

We've got to change the way we think when we hear Him call us. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In other words, change your thinking about service to God.

Let's change our service to God from something we have to do to something we want to do.

Let's change our service to God from something we do for atta boys or atta girls to something we do because we want to please the Lord.

Let's change our service to God from time taken away from our daily schedule to time gratefully given in praise and worship because we love Him and want to give back to Him.

Let's change our service to Him from thinking about ourselves first to thinking about our fellow person and serving Him by serving them first, no matter what that might mean to us. It's called sacrifice.

Boarding the SS Dorchester on a dreary winter day in 1943 were 903 troops and four chaplains, including Moody alumnus Lt. George Fox. World War II was in full swing, and the ship was headed across the icy North Atlantic where German U-boats lurked. At 12:00 on the morning of February 3, a German torpedo ripped into the ship."She's going down!" the men cried, scrambling for lifeboats. A young GI crept up to one of the chaplains. "I've lost my life jacket," he said. "Take this," the chaplain said, handing the soldier his jacket. Before the ship sank, each chaplain gave his life jacket to another man. The heroic chaplains then linked arms and lifted their voices in prayer as the Dorchester went down. Lt. Fox and his fellow pastors were awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross.

Are we gonna drop our nets when he calls, or will we hesitate?

It's time for a revolution!

It's time for a revolution in our relationships in this Body of Christ, in this church. Romans 12:3-5 says this. "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you; Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

Each member belongs to all the others. Radical thought, there. Let's think about that for a minute. If I, as a member of this church, have a clear and solid understanding of this concept, it's going to revolutionize the way I deal with the C word here…..what's that word……conflict. Yuck! Conflict.

But seriously, if we have that solid grasp of belonging to each other. I belong to you, you belong to me. Sounds like some hokie oversized purple dinosaur song, doesn't it? I love you, you love me…..but I digress.

If we know and understand that we belong to each other, it gives us the opportunity for a new way of thinking and acting with each other.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind….do not conform to the patterns of this world.

Now I'm going to share a little-known tidbit about my life here with you. I don't think I've even shared it with Sandra. When I was a kid, and I was bored, I used to get into a lot of hand fights. Now these hand fights are not what you may be thinking. I didn't fight with anyone else, but I would stage a fight between my two hands.

How silly is that? Hands don't fight against each other, do they? Your liver and your ear don't get into a heated exchange…..your left big toe and your ankle don't disagree on something and never get over it, do they? Just one note here….there may be a disagreement between your nose and your smelly feet, but that's about it.

In a discourse similar to Romans 12:3-5, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12. He writes about "One Body, many parts," and in so doing, stated that we all need each other. "The eye cannot say to the hand 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' Aha, we do need each other and we do belong to each other.

So why don't we act like it? Why do we get into petty arguments? Why do we think that we are more important than any other person in this church? Why do attitudes and judgments and fights and quarreling and egos come in here? I'll tell you why….because we haven't heard Paul's request of us to "not conform to the patterns of this world." We need to revolutionize our thinking about each other!

You got a beef with someone, go reconcile. Who cares who is right and who is wrong…you're probably both a bit right and a bit wrong! Who cares if it's been four months…..go! Who cares if the world says if you go first, you're the weaker one….God says you're the stronger one!

It's time for a revolution in this church!

It's time for a revolution in the way we give our gifts here at Church of the Holy SpritSong! Going on in our text in Romans, we read in verses 6-8:

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; it if is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." You can let out your breath now, I'm not talking about tithing.

Gifts given by God…abilities given by the Spirit for the purpose of ministry. Gifts are supernatural abilities, above and beyond natural talent, in some cases, however, they may spring from a spiritual empowerment of a person's natural abilities.

So the Lord says if your gift is teaching, then teach. No brainer, right? Of course I'm gonna teach if that's what my gift is. But no, He's saying much more than than. You see, after awhile, after we've been serving for some time, we get a little tired every once in awhile. We get run down, or worn out. And it's during those times that we tend to lose our fervor, our excitement, our passion for what it is that we do.

Why do we do that? Because we're human, because we always want to be stimulated in everything we do, because we want our lives and our experiences to be fresh, and exciting, and full of pop! And why do we feel that way? Because we are conforming to the pattern of this world, and are NOT being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

When that happens, we gotta do a little self-evaluation…..pray, listen, follow. Get some spiritual renewal in a new way….pray with a friend, go to a retreat, get away, attend a conference, buy some cd's, worship. But do it with fervor, do it with passion, do it with the all the expectancy you can muster, knowing that God is at your side, guiding you into renewal and restoration.

Now let's face it…..sometimes it's just time for one thing to end and a new thing to start in your life. But what God is asking us to do is to be not just a teacher if we teach, but to be the best teacher we can be at all times because that's what He has called us and equipped us to do. And as long as you are called to be that teacher, you teach with all you have. With all the passion and fervor and the Spirit carrying you into every day, you teach, and you teach well.

It's time for a revolution in this place. This church needs you, gang. We need every one of you to do what it is God has sent you here to do. Are you doing it? Do you know what IT is? If not, let's find out together. If so, do it with passion, do it with love, do it with your eyes up and your ears open, listening and following our Father in Heaven.

It's time for a revolution!






Monday, May 17, 2010

Treasure in the Temple

"Treasure in the Temple"
Scriptures: Exodus 25:1-9; John 14:15-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Pastor Tom Millner

SpiritSong Worship Center

May 16, 2010



In the eighth grade I met Turner who became my best friend through high school. He was the son of my uncle's brother who had been killed in a tragic train accident just two years before. Turner and I quickly bonded around practical jokes, the Three Stooges and MAD Magazine – anything to distract us from the mundane life of rural North Carolina where my closest neighbor was a mile away. We spent weekends together (when I didn't have a lot of chores – he hated work) and often spent overnights at each other's homes when we could. He amused me and I was a constant nag to him to study. We double dated together sometimes when I got a date for him, but somehow never connected that he wasn't terribly interested in dating. We planned to go to college together and be roommates. He went to summer school at the college where we were "conditionally" accepted if we academically proved ourselves with a remedial English class. We both had lousy SAT scores –no one had ever taught us how to take standardized tests! I attended a local branch of a university and took a regular (not remedial) English course, got a B and ensured my entry into the college of my choosing. Turner, on the other hand, partied all summer, flunked English and Math and was summarily disinvited to return in the fall. Later that year, during the height of the Vietnam War, he was drafted. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and returned home during my senior year in college. I talked him into going back to school and interceded with the Dean of Students on his behalf (I was VP of Student Government Association) and got the way cleared for his entry the next fall. I didn't see him much after that. I taught High School in NC for a year before moving to FL with my new wife to teach school in Palm Beach County. The last I saw Turner was at a Howard Johnson's Restaurant on Route 29 South in Danville, Virginia. I was delivering him a life insurance policy that I had sold him (I did several jobs to support my teaching habit). I was full of excitement about my first child that was about to be born and the new house my wife and I had just moved into. I didn't give myself time to notice Turner's hollow laughs and thinly veiled jokes. I joked as I went through the policy provisions pointing out that suicide was exclusion in the death benefit. We said goodbye, gave each a hug, and I traveled back to my home in Florida. Six months later, my sister called in tears telling me that Turner had hanged himself in his mother's home. "Your name and phone number were on the pad of paper next to his dangling feet:" she said. I was devastated, angry, guilty, and full of remorse that I had not been there for him. It has taken me years to process the loss of my best friend. His pain must have been enormous! Another friend posted on Facebook this week that "suicide is the highest form of narcissism." I'm not sure that statement was helpful, but it made me think. Whether I think of me more highly or more lowly, it is still of ME I think.

God knows so very well what we think about. There's no place we can go to be removed from His observing eye or ear. Just because we turn our backs on Him doesn't mean He still can't see our face. Just because we tell ourselves He can't possibly love someone like me doesn't mean He's not waiting with open arms to embrace us once again. He knows our thoughts are focused on ourselves and that even as we think about Him, we think of Him as it relates to we who think of Him! God is less concerned that we think of ourselves more often than Him or others than He is with WHAT we're thinking about ourselves.

Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth was attempting to restore unity there. They were placing self interest over the interest of the whole, squabbling about who is right and wrong…much like we see being played out today in modern churches over GLBT issues. Paul wrote: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" I can think about my every day challenges that translate to my struggles (woe is me), or I can think about this body as His temple, the dwelling place of His Holy Spirit and suddenly, what I think has taken on a totally different context in which I'm thinking about me! Jesus is quoted in John's Gospel, chapter 8:31-32 "…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." When I focus on the teaching from His Word which reveals the truth of His love, I am set free from the chains of me that have me bound!

There are three significant points from our scripture readings today that relate to our topic; "Treasures in the Temple."


  1. The temple is built with the best God has given us! In Exodus, God instructed Moses on what the people of Israel were to bring for the construction of the Temple. "The LORD said to Moses, 'tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." God didn't ask them to bring their junk and give it for the construction of the temple; He asked them to bring their best! He gave them all the best they had so he knew what they were to bring. God has given us each treasures – a SHAPE for His service to honor Him. Don't judge or diminish what you or another has been given. God asks those whose heart prompts them to give of their best for the Temple. It's significant because all these Temples here make up a single body – the Body of Christ!
  2. The Temple is Sacred! In ancient days the Lord dwelled in the Holy of Holies, behind the veil. Only the High Priest whose ritual sacrifice of the pure and holy could enter that place where His Spirit dwelt. Impurity could not be in the presence of purity! That's why a rope was tied around the ankle of the High Priest before he entered the Holy of Holies so that if the sacrifice of offering were not acceptable and he were struck dead by the presence of God, his body could be pulled out beneath the curtain. The temple was where His Shekinah glory dwelled and it was the place where the people went to honor, worship, and praise Him. God no longer dwells in that Temple. He has made a place for Himself elsewhere. In our scripture reading from John: "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." He's not in some obscure place – He's here in us, bringing us to Himself, face to face. The great high priest has made the sacrifice –himself!
  3. He calls us to honor His Temple. Paul tells the Corinthians that they should know that their bodies are His Temple! Christ paid the price that we might live – He in us and we in Him. We honor His Temple by stepping aside with our own ways of thinking and allow our thinking to be within Him. Romans 12:1-3 reads: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." The sober judgment with which we are to think of ourselves is brought about in the light of the temple in which He lives.


God has given us His very best. He wants us to give no less!

With regards to this temple – He's the owner, we share the space!

Give His place the best we can offer – the surrender of self!






Monday, May 10, 2010

The Exception as a Rule

"The Exception as a Rule"

Scripture: Psalms 147:1-5; John 4:10-14

Pastor Tom Millner

SpiritSong Worship Center

May 9, 2010



In our scripture from Psalm 147 we read "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit." Keep this Old Testament teaching in mind as we discover more about the limitless understanding and power of love that God demonstrates.

In 1974 I was reading a book by the author Keith Miller titled "The Becomers." He told the story about Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well. Something he wrote jumped out of the pages at me. He said, in effect, that Jesus met the woman at the well where she was for who she was, as she was. Then he said something that had profound impact on my life and on the lives of a few others. He said; "If God accepts you as you are, where you are for who you are, how dare you not accept yourself." I paused and prayed; "God, help me to understand and accept in myself that which you love and accept in me." The tears began to flow as I began for the first time to wrap my thoughts around the implications of what had just happened. I cried "anything but that, Lord," and then accepted that His grace was sufficient to see me through. I prayed that He would lead me to understand the significance of being His creation, just as He had made me.

The story of the woman at the well is a powerful one. You see, because Jesus was a good Jew and abided by the Law. By the rules this should not have happened. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and looked down upon by those of pure Jewish descent. Israel was overtaken in 720 BC by the Assyrians and the majority of the Jews were taken into captivity. Those who remained in the homeland mingled with and ultimately married the "pagans" who lived near by. They kept much of their Jewish roots, however, and even built a temple for worship at Mt. Gerizim, the place believed to be the location where Abraham offered Isaac. When the Jews returned from captivity, they considered the Samaritans to be "half-breeds," unworthy of the inclusion in the nation of Israel – simply because of who they were! A good Jew would not even associate with them, be near them, and much less have a conversation with them. Not only were they despised for their actions, they were despised for their very being! Jesus' encounter was the exception to the rule, but as we've seen time and again in scripture, Jesus' exception is the rule of love!

In Luke 10 we're told the story of the "Good Samaritan" who seeing a Jew lying on the side of the road, who was bleeding from an assault, went to the man's rescue. The Samaritan bound the Jew's wounds, took him to a local hotel and even paid for the stay while the man recuperated. To the Jew, blood was unclean. Touch it or any part of a garment having touched it and you yourself were contaminated and would have to go through a period of seven days of purification to be reinstated into your family or be allowed into the temple for worship. You can see why Jews were just walking by and not giving a hand to the poor guy. Jews, when seeing a Samaritan coming their way along the road, would cross to the other side opposite the Samaritan to avoid and potential contact and thus contamination with the "unclean." Jesus told this story and challenged the "rule" of thumb, pointing out that the exceptional thing that the Samaritan did was the rule of love. The establishment's rules were hurting each other and not honoring God. Now back to the well.

The woman came to the well at noonday. It wasn't the time to be there. Most people came in the morning, before the hot sun was scorching the earth. She came at that time for a reason; the other women of the town would have probably ostracized her since she was divorced several times and currently living with a man who was not her husband. She was not the norm, not a part of the crowd; not one of the "in crowd." Furthermore, to have a Jew and a Rabbi no less, speak to you at this hot desolate place must have seemed out of character and perhaps even a little suspicious to her. Maybe she thought this man was coming on to her? To add to the confusion, Jesus asks her for a drink – A Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman, asking for assistance – an exception to the rule! By the rules, there was something exceptional about this man and this encounter. Jesus lets her know that if she only realized who He was, she would be asking Him for a drink of "living water." She responds in essence something like this; "So what are you going to give me water with when you don't have anything to draw it with? This is the same well as Jacob and his clan drank from – are you some greater man than our ancestors?" Jesus then tells her about the water He gives as being that which quenches one's thirst so much that it becomes a living spring for eternal life. Being the practical minded babe she was, she asked Jesus to give her this water then so she wouldn't have to be coming back to THIS well over and over. Sister's not getting it! Jesus breaks the barrier – "Go call your husband and come back." Opps – Sister's on the spot and responds she doesn't have a husband. Jesus then lets her know that He already knows she's had five husbands and is currently living with a man who isn't her husband. Suddenly, He's no ordinary man. She's no fool! She baits Jesus with the age old question about where the proper place of worship is – Jerusalem or Gerizim. Jesus' response is that you worship where you worship and the Jews worship where they worship, but what God is looking for is not a place but rather a state of being – spirit and truth! Then Jesus reveals to her who He truly is. Because of her testimony, many more Samaritans believed.


So, what's the point here? What can we learn from this exchange?


  1. Jesus meets us where we are! He's not looking for the perfect Christian or the perfect person – He's interested in the REAL one! He doesn't care about our past and what we've done or not done – he cares about touching our hearts in a way that changes our perception of us in His presence forever! If God accepts us where we are, as we are, for whom we are, how dare we not accept ourselves? The rule book of the demanding denominations would have us think that we're unacceptable as we are. Jesus' rule is the exception; He embraces us just as we are.
  2. Jesus' love opens new doors of understanding! Tradition would have us think that the prejudices of the past are the rules that last. The radical love of Jesus demonstrates that loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul and loving our neighbor as we would our self is an abrupt departure from how the world behaves. Andrew Marin, in his book "Love is an Orientation" states that the right wing fundamentalists give the GLBT community three choices; Change, be celibate, or go to hell. Jesus meets us with a different understanding: He meets us at the well of living water as the unique creations He has made us. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3: 28 that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female, (GLBT-LMNOP…AEIOU) for you are ALL one in Christ Jesus." He further states in chapter five of Galatians (5:6) "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumscision (or the other petty things you may concern yourselves with) has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
  3. When we meet Jesus, everything else seems so unimportant! The woman came to the well out of need for water and out of routine that avoided facing disgrace. What she found was the unlikely presence of a Savior that got her real before Him and loved her to a place of overflowing desire to tell everyone else about Him. Tradition said she couldn't talk with or be near the Jew. The love of God said her tradition was not important – The LOVE of the universe accepted her as she was where she was and suddenly everything that she and others thought to be so significant about her melted away.