Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Proff of Wisfom

“The Proof of Wisdom”

Pastor Tom Millner

Matthew 11:16-19; James 3:13-18

January 23, 2010


You’ve heard “the proof is in the pudding”? How about “I’ll believe it when I see it”? Some say the longer you live, the greater skeptic you become. One of the more common things I hear from folks who visit churches is that they are waiting to see if the folks in the church “walk the talk.” I did the same thing when I first came to visit COHSS. I felt the warmth, the welcoming spirit, and I wanted to witness love in action. What I saw was encouraging, but it didn’t allay my skepticism about “these people.” Although I had been around and sometimes involved in churches most of my adulthood, in the years just prior to COHSS I had experienced three extremes. The “damnation if you don’t change who you are” church; the “everything is beautiful, I am the Spirit of God” church; and the “I’m so gay this must be the way” church. None of those spoke to me about the God of grace and mercy that calls us to place Him first in our lives. All of the others seemed to be about justifying self, (change self to be acceptable, try to equate one’ self to the goodness of God, or push the contrived world view of orientation as the central theme of God’s love) rendering the effort itself as the god being sought. My decision to stop judging the folks around me (as harshly as I was judging myself) and to enter into a relationship with Him, one-on-one, in the fellowship of other likeminded folks, was the first step I took toward membership in this Body. I stand before you today a work in progress, not perfected, but perfectly at peace with Christ as my leader. What I was looking for was the evidence of wisdom that was patterned after what I knew to be from God. I had witnessed other forms of wisdom and found them to be lacking in substance to nurture my soul. There are three things I’ve learned about wisdom that I’d like to share with you today


1.      Wisdom comes alive in action! We make the mistake of thinking that wisdom is something abstract that is captured in a body of literature or knowledge that is passed down generation to generation. If wisdom sits on the shelf of self-knowledge and is never exercised, it is of no value and turns out not to be wisdom at all. James reminds us that wisdom is action that is full of mercy and good fruit. He said: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” He means that the execution of wisdom is to be done in the absence of self-interest. That lack of self-interest is called humility. The humility that calls attention to itself is always false. James further states: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” The good fruit that James talks about is not unlike the fruit that Paul asserts in Galatians 5:22-23 as being “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are all action oriented words! The action has a consequence – a deeper relationship with God, the giver of all wisdom.

2.      True wisdom is divine! The smart thing we think we’re doing sometimes isn’t the wise thing. Create a system and someone is always smart enough to create a way to beat it. The human network of actions, interaction, and reactions is centered on structure, hierarchy and power. It’s a smart system to keep things in order. It isn’t a system built on God’s wisdom! You see God’s wisdom draws us to Him. He isn’t interested in our power systems or hierarchy. He doesn’t need such things. He’s interested in relationship with us. The exercise of true wisdom takes us deeper in relationship with Him. As we grow deeper in our relationship with Him, we grow broader in our relationships with each other. Action that takes us deeper into Him is wise action indeed. Action that undermines or diminishes our relationship with Him is foolish. We believe that living out His great commandment will lead to the fulfillment of His great commission. His great commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and likewise love each other as we love ourselves. I’ve heard many say “I can’t love another until I’ve learned how to love myself.” That’s a way of saying “don’t bother me with your stuff because I’ve got my own plate full!” That’s an excuse for continued self-indulgence, not a scriptural prescription to heal a broken heart! We already love ourselves to death. Why else would we create any false god that we believe will be safe for us to worship? We truly don’t believe that God has our best interest at heart – otherwise, we would be knocking down walls of self-denial, and self-interest to get to the heart of God and co-union with Him. God calls us to relationship with Him so we can love ourselves to life – in, through, and because of Him. We create a foolish box of rules, stipulations, conditions, laws and damnation and try desperately to stuff God into it. God and His wisdom cannot be contained in our stupid box of rocks! True wisdom seeks the real God! So the exercise of true wisdom is indeed divine.

3.      The object of wisdom is love! Proverbs is a part of what is called the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. It is chocked full of little tidbits for fruitful living. In the prologue to the book, Solomon states: (Proverbs 1:7) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Now the fear that is talked about here is not the fear that we would experience when faced head on by an out of control cement truck with no place to turn. It’s the kind of fear that is better translated in our language as “awe” or wonder. The kind of awe and wonder that arises when we contemplate that the creator and crafter of all the universe, who is with us now on a sub-atomic, quantum level that is beyond even the greatest mind’s conception, is the God that is so much in love with us that rather than see a single one of us self-destruct, would actually take on our human form and be destroyed Himself. That’s a God of awe, a God of wonder. And, that’s a God of love whose wisdom points the way to a deeper relationship with Him. So called wisdom that leads to fear so great that we run from the presence of it is not the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God will always lead us back to Him because that’s the reason we were created. Wisdom has a purpose – to lead us to God. God desires to love the hell out of us, not beat it out of us, damn us to it or make us burn in it.


So, wisdom comes alive in action. Not just any action, but that action that is from God. True wisdom is divine! It come from and points back to Him. The object of wisdom is love - not only the object, but the purpose! Been wrestling with an unloving version of God? Got Him wrapped up neatly on a shelf in a box of your self-creation where you can safely pull him out when the going gets tough? In the words of a great unknown philosopher; “that dog don’t hunt.” The “hound of heaven,” however, hunts us down at every turn, waiting to rescue us from our own wisdom and secure us soundly in the arms of His love. He’s calling you today. Can you hear His loving howl echoing over your soul; come home…you who are weary, come home?

This is wisdom (from Matthew 11:28-30) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Are You Worth?

“What Are You Worth?”

Pastor Tom Millner

Luke 9:57-62; Mark 8:34-38

January 16, 2011


We’ve been inundated this week by the news around the tragedy in Arizona. Six people killed by what some have labeled a “loose cannon lunatic.” Fingers were pointed at opposing ideological views. Political pundits postulate profusely about the power of the opposition to change the tone of the rhetoric pouring forth. We ask; when will this stuff end? When will there be a world where there is peace and tolerance, acceptance, mutual support and caring for each other?  We remember the Christmas song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Jill and Sy Miller in 1955.


Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
We are family.
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.


The words in the last stanza are words we need to heed today and every day; “let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Some Christians cry out for Christ to come and then all the carnage will cease. We believe that’s true, but He already has given us ample example of living out His Kingdom now! Some argue for better gun control while others argue for more access to arms for protection. Guns are only as good as the one who does or does not pull the trigger. It’s what’s behind the finger that creates the carnage, not the finger itself. As we’ve said before, the value of a quarter inch drill is not the drill but in the whole you get!

So, what’s a human life worth? We’re told that there are rather basic ingredients that make up the bulk of the human body. According to Answers.com; “The human body's basic ingredients are water, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, ions, salt, bases, acids, carbon-dioxide, and hydrogen peroxide. The human body is made up of 2/3's of water and has enough iron to make a 3 inch nail. The human body's total amount of water can fill a 10 gallon tank. The human body has three basic elements: Oxygen (61% or 43kg), carbon (23% or 16kg), and hydrogen (10% or 7kg). The human body contains 8 pints of blood. If you were to somehow remove the entire DNA from a single sell and lay it all down by the ends, it would be 6 feet in length.” All together, the estimated cost of these ingredients would be well under $100.00. So, it looks like there’s about $1,000 sitting in here this morning. Some folks paid more than that for their pet! My health insurance costs more than that each month.  The birth of our Granddaughter cost about twenty times that amount. Isn’t it odd that it should cost so much to deliver so little net value? But wait a minute; my Granddaughter is priceless! There must be something more in the value of the individual than the sum of the ingredients!

The impoverished quake survivor in Haiti who lives from scrap to scrap, who lives without hope of gainful employment or means to acquire more, values self to a degree greater than the sum of his elemental parts. Humans living in proximity of one another will vie for rank, status, and a higher level of perceived worth. Some are comfortable letting others hold rank. Others are not satisfied until a higher rank is achieved. If all the elemental parts of any person adds up to only a nominal amount, what accounts for the true value of a human? Is one more valuable than another? Does the value have to do with what the person does with that bundle of elements sorted out in the process of gestation? Our human way of thinking tells us that it is what we do with what we have that brings the value to us. Does the short life of young Christina Greene who was killed in Arizona this week have more intrinsic value than the 88 year old Hazel Poteat who passed away in rural NC? How do you calculate your value? The answer lies not in looking at others or around you, but rather with looking up to see what is within you!

1.      God thinks you are worth dying for! How worthy does one need to be in order to be valued so much that the God of the universe would actually give Himself as a sacrifice to human death and suffering, just to demonstrate His love? John 3 mentions the “whosoever” that believes and the “whosoever” that doesn’t. John does not state that the value of the one is greater than the other. He only references the consequences of the act of belief. We Bible thumping Christians sometimes look with disdain at the “non-believers” as those pesky losers who have just missed the boat. Some of us have experienced the condemnation from the “broader” church for being who we are in spite of “Who” we believe!  In His death, Christ calls us into relationship with Him in a way that was not possible before His death. We have the freedom to choose to engage that relationship or not. Simply muttering the words “I believe” followed by acts that shout “I need to receive” is not the “believe” for the “whosoever” that John writes about. You see, Jesus believes you are worth enough to have laid down His life for you. His life was the greatest price He could pay; rendering the one for whom He died to be of highest value. I believe that on that great judgment day we’ll hear echoed the words of the great prophet, Ricky Ricardo shouted; “Lucy, you got some e’splainin to do.”  Paul reminds us in his letter to the church at Ephesus that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

2.      Our worth is not measured by our system of accounting! We strive to gain by what we get. Power, influence, knowledge, possessions or holdings are measures we use to determine one’s worth. It seems we’ll go to any length to have others affirm our value. Some go to extreme lengths to protect their self-value by taking their lives (and death) into their own hands.  We saw in today’s Gospel readings that human nature (as compared to God’s nature) hasn’t changed much in over 2000 years. We make declarations to follow Him, yet are deterred by this that, or the other that somehow distracts us from the path of relationship with Him. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to fit Him in. Bills to pay, people to see, places to go, and a to-do list to complete consume our space and time. At the end of the day, we so often long for more. He says “here I am knocking...” “Right, God; let me finish this, let me do that; then I will be with you." In Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 9 that we read today; “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Notice it doesn’t say “worthy” of the Kingdom; it say’s “fit.” When we don’t serve our role in relationship with Him, it doesn’t mean we aren’t any longer worthy of His love and mercy, it means we aren’t fit (competent) to serve in His kingdom. Worth has been established by virtue of God’s act of love at the cross. God calls us to be fit in His service! We’ve heard it said that this life is the kindergarten for eternity. So many of us are holding ourselves back in preschool! Relationship opportunities surround us, but we are too busy shining the walls of self-perception to engage relationship with others. We cry “fill ME” Lord, “inspire ME” Lord, “grant ME” Lord… “Have my will be done” Lord.  If God believes you are worth dying for don’t you think He’s worth living for? He’s given us everything we need…He’s assessed our net worth as priceless. He’s asked us to share the wealth he’s assessed. You see, that person next to you has a priceless value. The dude that ticked you off the last time also has a priceless value. The guy who pulled the trigger this week and mercilessly killed six priceless recipients of God’s love is himself priceless before God. When will we learn that what God desires for us is not pretentious piety, but pure and unadulterated surrender of self in relationship? How do we have that with him? Matthew 25:45 states “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” When we know we’re in relationship with Him is when we see the evidence in relation to others. That’s priceless!

3.      The fullness of your worth expresses itself one act at a time! When Jesus prayed in the garden before His arrest, He prayed not for a crown of glory but for the will of His Father to be done. The value of that act is available to every human who has and will ever live since then. Without the act, the value would not have been realized. Abraham’s act of hospitality to three strangers spawned a bond with God that produced a people of faith. The act of perseverance by Moses led to the exodus of the Jews from their slavery in Egypt. The bull’s eye aim of the young David spawned the dawn of a great kingdom. The surrender of the family fishing business to follow an itinerant preacher spawned the Rock upon which a great church was built. The act of nailing the tenants of faith to a church in Germany led to a mighty reformation. The belief that God values the quality of one’s character over the color of one’s skin led to steps away from open bigotry. What are these lives worth? Their worth is immeasurable! The value of each lives on through the impact on all.


In case you haven’t noticed, God’s call to us is not to just an exclusive with Him. It’s a bond with you, Him, and me. You can’t have one without the other. When you marry that partner, you get the family as well! The command He gives is a love response from Him: to love Him above all else (including self) and to love one another as if the other were as valuable as self. Mark 8:34-38 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”


Want to know what you’re worth?


Three nails + one cross + surrender ÷ mankind = priceless!



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's so happy about it?

What’s So Happy About It?

Pastor Leslie Tipton


Ephesians 4:11-13 (New International Version, ©2010)

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Happy New Year, Church! Happy New Year! How many times do you think you’ve said this in the past three days, or how many times do you think you’ve heard it? “Happy New Year” is a traditional greeting surrounding the marking of the new year, but what does a new year mean, and why are we so happy about it? What’s so happy about a new year? Let’s first take a look at the history of the new year celebration.

In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Year’s day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back.  Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year.  Caesar celebrated the first January 1 New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee.  Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets.  In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.

As Christianity spread, pagan holidays were either incorporated into the Christian calendar or abandoned altogether.  By the early medieval period most of Christian Europe regarded Annunciation Day (March 25) as the beginning of the year.  (According to Catholic tradition, Annunciation Day commemorates the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be impregnated by G-d and conceive a son to be called Jesus.)

If we think about New Year’s Day rationally, it really is just another day, another 24 hours, another 1440 minutes, another 86,400 seconds. The moment the clock strikes midnight, it really is just another one of those seconds that has passed, and entered us into another day. So why is it so happy.

What’s all the hoopla about a new year? Why do we make it a national holiday, a time to go out and celebrate, a day of reflection. Why all the attention for this one day of the year? Is it really all about resolutions? Show of hands here...how many have made new year’s resolutions for 2011. And, if you’re brave, how many have already broken those resolutions?

The new year......what’s so happy about it?

Nothings gonna change. We don’t see the economy taking any positive leaps and bounds, unless you consider people trampling each other to get the most popular toy or gadget on Black Friday change for good. Unless you consider rising gas prices good. Unless you view rising crime rates happy. Unless we take a look at our latest financials a “good sign.” So I ask you again, what’s so happy about it?

Let’s see if we can get some insight into this Happy New Year thing.

T.S. Eliot wrote in “Little Gidding”

"For last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.


To make an end is to make a beginning. Aha, the definition of a new year’s resolution....making an end to something in order to make a new beginning. And even though we see very little to make us happy in this world, we still have an incredible opportunity TO MAKE A CHANGE IN OUR LIVES AND IN THIS WORLD.

Funny thing about the new year. It gives us the OPPORTUNITY to make a change, and it gives us a timely marker during which to make those changes. Some use it as an excuse to wait for, and some use it as the very first motivation we have ever had to make those changes. Whatever the motivation, it is an opportunity, just as every day is.

Now, I’m gonna give you a heads up right now. I’m not an advocate of New Year’s resolutions full of fluff and promises. Yes, we all want to lose weight, get back in the gym, maintain our youthful appearance and save more money. All of those things are nice, and they make us feel better about ourselves. However, I am going to suggest a few “resolutions” based on Biblical instruction. Instead of a feel good statement about What Would Jesus Do, I’m going to lead us in a discussion about black and white, and I’m not talking about some of our skin colors. Black and White, right here. (hold up the Bible)

Let’s go back for a moment to our Scripture reading today. And I would like for us all to read this together, out loud, as one. You’ll find it on page _______ in the church Bibles. Please, everyone pick up a Bible or read along with another.

Read Ephesians 4:11-13

Ephesians 4:11-13 (New International Version, ©2010)

11 So Christ
Let’s stop there for a moment.

So Christ....the fullness of God, sent by God, foretold by an angel, carried in the womb by Mary, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. Christ, God-incarnate, our Savior, Messiah, Jehovah, Redeemer and Friend, Healer, Deliverer, our Lord, our Teacher, The Great Example, Christ. Need we go any further? Need we say another word? Need we give any more bullet points? So Christ.....yes, Christ. No other ever was, ever will be, nor is right now. So Christ!

Let’s continue reading:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Whew! You wanna make a resolution, let’s make it at least partly based on this piece of Scripture. “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

That may seem like a tall order for any of us, but it can be done. And how do we do that? Ask any addict how they live their lives. One day at a time. One day at a time making the choice to work toward unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Let’s take a couple of minutes to break this down.

What exactly is “unity in the faith?” One word at a time. Unity - we think and act and believe alike. Faith - our beliefs that God is love, God loves us, Christ is our savior, He came to restore our relationship with God, and that we strive to become like him day by day. Unity in the faith - until we all hold the same truths, and have the same confidence in the Son of God. Can it happen? Sure it can? Will it happen. I’ve got news for you....it’s happening here NOW! How is it happening? Weekly corporate worship, where the saints (that’s you guys) come together to give God the worship He is due, in unity and love. It’s happening in weekly Bible studies. It’s happening in one on one counseling, in discipleship meetings, in classes, in fellowship.

It’s happening! Are you a part of it? I sure hope so. Do you know how to be a part of it? I sure hope so. Unity of the faith is happening every day here at COHSS.

The second part - knowledge of the Son of God - comes right alongside unity in the faith. We can’t be unified with each other unless we are doing that by learning about the Son of God, who is Christ Jesus.

In fact, our focus within unity in the faith IS knowledge of Christ. How do we attain knowledge of the Son of God, that is Christ? I’ve got a few suggestions for you.

1. Daily devotional and Bible reading
Now before you turn off on me, let me just say, I’ve got some practical examples.

Daily Bread - Not only do we give them out here on the literature table, you can also read it online (see our FB page for the daily Scripture reading), read it on your smart phone (yes, there’s an app for that).

I venture to say it has never been easier for us to read our daily devotions.

Bible reading plan - sign on to Blue Letter Bible.com, and download a reading plan. You can even read Scripture online, and mark that you’ve read the passages. Hear what I’m telling you. The website keeps track of what you’ve read.

2. Daily prayer and meditation

Goes without saying. You can’t get to know someone without spending time with them. Pick someone for illustration

What are we really talking about here? We’re talking about growing roots, and not just any roots...spiritual roots. Why are roots important?

Ficus trees in hurricanes, fall over almost every time
Why....their roots grow shallow, not deep

Roots not only stabilize us, they nourish us.

Jeremiah 17:7 says “Blessed is the man whose trust is in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the stream that sends out its roots by the stream.


Small faith, big results


Saturday, January 8, 2011

What's on Your Mind?

“What’s on Your Mind?”

Pastor Tom Millner

Luke 12:22-34; Romans 12:1-2

January 9, 2011


You’ve heard the quote from Henry Ford who said, “If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right.” How we think emerges from our beliefs. We are in the beginning weeks of the year 2011. Do you believe you can live through this year victoriously? What supports your belief that you will be intact at year end, 2011? Do you really believe or do you just hang on to wishful thinking?  Do you believe that God loves you as you are for where you are or do you believe you are unlovable by God (or even self and others) until you change a few things? Do you believe that all things are possible with God; or do you believe some things are possible with God, but not for you?  What you think, what you believe, what you hold as your “attitude” determines the way you will act. Your actions determine your direction and your direction will determine where you wind up. To quote the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.”

This is neither a so called health and wealth sermon, nor a name it and claim it sermon. This is a sermon about trusting the One who is the author and finisher of our faith, the Creator of this universe, the all-powerful God! Trusting Him to be who He is and going about the business of who we are in, through, and because of Him! What do we need to live out His creation intent in our lives? The answer lies in what we do with what His WORD tells us is to be in our minds, hearts, and actions.


1.       Believe that Christ is WHO the scripture says He is! This is the central theme of the Gospel message God calls us at COHSS to share with this community in 2011 and beyond. John 3:14-21 goes to great length to help us understand the centrality of belief in Jesus Christ being the way to new life eternally with God. God’s action through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of divine love that has no condemnation, but rather radical liberation from the bondage that is self-will and dogged determination to have it our way. In these verses we read that not believing is indeed a conscious condemnation of self to an eternity without God’s presence. This belief that Jesus is the way requires radical change in thinking and behaving; resulting in radical change in believing that delivers a radical peace that defies previous logic. Instead of focusing on needing to be at the front of the line, or comfortably hidden somewhere in the back of the line, or forming a new line altogether, the focus is on magnifying the love of Christ as the bottom line! God doesn’t revoke His love and grace because we engage self-determination; He calls us to understanding that His determination to love us has trumped the need for glorified self-determination. Grace and mercy are free to us, but they are not cheap. It cost God His greatest; He calls us to discipleship and that my friends is indeed costly. We don’t like to hear that we have to do anything except receive, but what we do determines ultimately whose we are. Are we ours or are we His? His WORD is clear on the consequences (results) of doing things our way, yet we choose to go about our merry way and wish it weren’t so.

2.      Keeping our minds on Him takes commitment! God calls us to relationship with Him. Relationship cannot exist where there is only one who is committed. “That’s alright, Honey – you do all the work and I’ll just hang around as long as there’s fun.” When there’s no longer the fun, we run to find the fun somewhere else. This translates to commitment to seeking fun, not relationship! Ask anyone who has been in relationship for any period of time beyond a few weeks or months and they can attest to the commitment of time, intent, presence, and patience that is required for relationship to flourish. Unfortunately, so many times we can’t see past the “me” to embrace the “we” whether in human relationship or the one with Him. To have that intimacy with Him for which He created us, we have to actively seek His presence through all the static, sound bites, noise, distraction, fatigue, and stinking thinking that comes our way. Prayer time and time in His Word are foundational to every day. God’s not going to turn you into a green eyed monster if you don’t make that commitment, but He can’t nourish your soul if you’re not feeding on the bread of life! COHSS is committed to keeping our thinking, preaching, acting, and virtual being on Him. Mother Teresa who worked with and on behalf of the world’s poor and downtrodden is credited with saying that “God does not expect us to be successful, just faithful.

3.      Let your consequence be love! All action has a result (consequence). If I choose to walk across five points in the middle of ongoing traffic, the consequence will not be good for me and probably several drivers. If I see a child about to step off a cliff and rush to scoop that child into my arms of safety, the consequence of my action will be a life saved. Only history will reveal how many lives will be enhanced as a consequence of that young life being saved. When confronted by the Pharisees about the greatest of the commandments, Jesus responded; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. The greatest sign of emotional and spiritual maturity is to take ownership for your own actions. “The devil made me do it” or you made me angry, or you called me that name first doesn’t cut it in the world of maturity. Every action we take has a consequence. You got here this morning as a consequence of the actions you took to get here. What you leave here with today is the consequence of the action you are taking now to either listen to seek to apply understanding, or to be occupied with some other form of distraction that will yield a different consequence. If the consequence we seek is love for God and love for others equal to self, then our thoughts, emotions and actions must be directed away from self. Do you have any idea how impossible that task is? On our own efforts, it will never happen. In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 19, Jesus was telling the Disciples how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples in essence stated that we all must then be doomed. Jesus’ response was “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Our call to Christian discipleship costs us something; “self” as we have known us for the “self” that He has created new in us. As His, we are no longer our own. The consequence of Christ’s decision to follow His Father’s will and surrender to what should have been our fate, was life eternal for us with Him, and a peace that passes all understanding in the presence of Him in our lives. The consequence of our surrender is a love for God that engages our heart, mind, and soul in a way that renders us love-able toward others.

The epistle of James, chapter 3 reads; “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom….But the wisdom that comes down from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” What wisdom are you engaging in 2011? It’s your choice. There are consequences no matter what action you take. Which consequence do you seek; love or less than?

So, what’s on your mind? The Apostle Paul said to the church in Philippi: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil 4:8