Take a Stand, inspired by Jeremiah 1.17-19

stand up speak out

Extended quote from Ragamuffin Reflections by Brennan Manning
The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”

Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize, because Jeremiah is Everyman and Everywoman.

Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NIV)
The words from scripture are found in regular type.

Get yourself ready!
There are things God leaves up to you
Your part of the preparation
Prayer and study and silence
Clearing out the crap so there’s space for what is coming

Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Rise now from the green pasture
From the still waters of comfort and slumber
Preparation leads to action
Sanctuary to Taking a Stand

Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
God alone is God
They do not deserve your reverence
Your awe
They are human
Dust and ashes, just like you

Today I have made you a fortified city,
an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land –
against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
The call is beyond you
So God makes you more than you
Steadfast
Enduring
Rock and Refuge
Living Stone
Rejected in the Redeeming
Like your Christ
Your Jesus

They will fight
But the battle is the Lord’s

They will fight against you but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

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On this same theme, consider also reading The Stream of Justice, a stirring encouragement to continue our efforts for peace, freedom, and justice. Written by Steve Garnaas Holmes for Martin Luther King remembrances and similar occasions.

Take a Stand © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Stand Up Speak Out graphic by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Parable of the Talents: Fearless or Fearful? (Matthew 25.14-30)

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

John of the Cross wrote that “In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of sheer foolhardiness, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point, and like sinning against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32) the poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness for clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground. John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation.”
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. –Tertullian

Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Whatever you do you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving ahead requires us to face the present with its hardships and afflictions, knowing that these, too, are part of the way. To do this requires a measure of courage, that word formed from the Latin cor, or heart. In such circumstances, the challenge before us is not simply to avoid losing our heart. Rather, it is that of finding our heart, of living “heartfully.” – Mark S. Burrows and John H. Ohlson, Love is a Direction from Weavings, Aug/Sept/Oct 2012

Click here and here and here for three thoughtful reflections on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Zephaniah 1:12
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
… and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
– Henri Nouwen

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For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please leave a message in the comments.

You are the Light of the World (Matthew 5.14-16)

light of the world robbie quinn

You are the Light of the World by Robbie Quinn

Matthew 5:14-16 NRSV
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Reflection
You are the light of the world
Not hidden, never hidden
You let it shine
You share it with the other
With all

What do they see?
Goodness
Light overcoming the darkness

What happens?
God is glorified
The Kingdom comes

Prayer
Jesus,
Your light makes us light
What a gift to be made in your image
To reflect your grace and hope
Your power and peacemaking
Hallelujah!

Help us shine
Share your light with all
Near and far
Beyond our imagining to your imagining
And desiring
A beam worthy of the stretch of your embrace
Worthy of your glory

Jesus, help us shine
Unveiled, Bright
Shining before others and for others
So others see you in us
and are drawn to your Light

You are so very good and generous, Jesus
You bathe us in the light of your grace, that we may be grace
You fill us with the light of your truth that we may be truth
You flood us with the light of your love that we may be love

Hallelujah! Glory to You, Lord of Life and Light!
Hallelujah! Come Glorious One
Dispel the darkness
Reveal what is real so we no longer fear the night
nor the light
Dawn a new day and a new us and a new Earth
Hallelujah! Amen!

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Click here for the post Reflecting God’s Light, more resources on this scripture

You are the Light of the World  © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

God Calls, Jonah Refuses (Jonah 1)

jonah

Sermon Series: Jonah, a Hard-Hearted Prophet Meets the God of Grace
Message 1 of 5: 
God Calls, Jonah Refuses
Scriptures: Jonah 1:1-3
Offered 7/9/17 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

The message opens with the story of Mandy Harvey, a deaf singing contestant on America’s Got Talent. (Click here for a video.) Mandy tells her story then sings a song she wrote entitled, “Try.” Mandy had every reason to stop trying- to give up on her talents and dreams in music, but she didn’t.

What talent has God given you? What dream has God given you to bless the world?

What’s stopping you from trying? We have a boat load of excuses- I can’t afford it. I don’t have enough education. I don’t have the time. I’m too old/young. I have too much responsibility. It’s too risky.

Beware my friends. There’s tremendous risk in hiding a talent and running from a dream, especially when they’re from God. That’s exactly what Jonah did. God calls Jonah. Jonah refuses and that refusal turn into rebellion.

There are 2 types of calls 
1. “Who I am” call – God blesses and empowers us with gifts, talents, life, purpose, etc. Jonah understood his “who I am” call. Jonah son of Amittai literally means “Dove, son of Truth.” Think of the dove associated with the story of Noah’s Ark. The dove brings grace and good news. Think of the dove associated with the Baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings the powerful, anointing of God.

Jonah is a faithful, effective prophet of God. Jonah is a gifted, skilled, and anointed seer. Jonah reveals the word and purposes of God to Israel’s king. It was grace and good news that Israel would expand its boarder under King Jeroboam.

2. “What to do” call– a specific mission assignment. Jonah is to “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (vs. 2) It’s a clear message from God of where to go and what to do. God said get up and go! Instead Jonah shut up and fled.

Problem was not misunderstanding. The problem was willingness. Jonah didn’t want to try. Jonah had every reason not to try
1. Nineveh wasn’t a Jewish city with a Jewish King. Nineveh was the magnificent capital city Assyria, a threatening, enemy superpower.

2. Nineveh was 550 miles away. Imagine that trip on donkey or on foot.

3. Jonah had no desire to preach to “those people.” They were enemies and Gentiles and pagans. He didn’t want to be labeled a “traitor” prophet by his own people.

4. God is a God of grace and mercy. God might extend forgiveness to his enemy and Jonah didn’t want that.

5. Jonah didn’t want to ruin his reputation. If he called out against the city and God spared it, his prophecy didn’t come true.

No God. It’s too risky. Too hard. You’re asking too much.

Does Jonah pray? Nope. Does he ask for help? Nope. Does he go? Nope. Jonah buries his talent, abandons his call, and runs away from the presence of the Lord. (mentioned twice in verse 3)

Jonah refuses and Jonah rebels and it breaks his relationship with God.

The Bible is full of examples which inspire us to greater faith and great acts of service. There are also examples for us to look to and avoid. Jonah is one of them.

How often are we more like Jonah than we want to admit? It doesn’t have to be this way. Step out in faith – try. God has tremendous faith in you. More than you have in yourself. God knit you together in your mother’s womb for a purpose. God empowers you with talents, gifts, graces, and experience for a purpose. Jesus died for you for a purpose- that you might be saved AND that you might join him in saving the world. Step out in faith – try

What is in your power to do for others? Do you have skills to teach and mentor others? Are you in a position to help alleviate suffering financially? Are you a great listener? Prayer Warrior? Organizer? Storyteller? Gardener? Share your testimony? Make an invitation? Do you have creative gifts in writing, music, dance, or art? Are you good with your hands in a way that you can offer practical assistance to people?

Step out in faith – try
You are the hope of the world- try

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.

If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- A Basket on the Nile (Exodus 2:1-10)

baby moses basket

Sermon Series: H2O, Hope to Offer
Messages on the water stories from Surf Shack VBS

Message: Baby in a Basket
Scripture: Exodus 1:6-2:10
Offered 6/5/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

There will always be Pharaohs in this world. We must read this story again and again to remember Pharaoh doesn’t win. We are the legacy of the children of Israel. We are the sons and daughters of those who live in awe of God. We are the heritage of doing the right thing, the hard thing in the face of great evil. – Lisa Degrenia

When the Pharaohs want us silent, we will speak. When they want us submissive, we will be assertive. When they want us unable to think, we will be calm and clever. When they want us cowering, we will be courageous. When they want us divided, we will break down the dividing walls with our compassion. – Lisa Degrenia

Joshua 1:9
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Worship Resource for this Message 
Opening Prayer (Psalm 18:1-3)
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
My God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
My shield, and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
so I shall be saved from my enemies.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

The 2016 TED Talk Experiment- Week 13

TED talk blog graphic 2

The Magic Ingredient That Brings Pixar Movies to Life
Danielle Feinberg
TED Talks Live New York City, November 2015
Science and art working together. “We use science to create something wonderful. We use story and artistic touch to get us to a place of wonder.” 

Try Something New for 30 Days 
Matt Cutts
TED2011 Long Beach California, March 2011
Delightful. Encouraging. Big ideas- 1. You can build courage 30 days at a time. 2) Small, sustainable changes stick.

Success, failure and the drive to keep creating
Elizabeth Gilbert
TED2014 Vancouver BC, March 2014
Watch this talk! It took 6 years of failure before Elizabeth Gilbert was finally published. Why did she continue to put herself through that pain? “I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing. Which is to say I loved writing more than I loved my own ego. Which is ultimately to say I loved writing more than myself.” Writing is her home. She returns to it again and again in failure or success. “I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.” What is your home? 

Wisdom From Great Writers on Every Year of Life
Joshua Prager
TEDActive 2015 Whistler BC, March 2015
Interesting project. “Like art and like color, literature helps us to remember what we have experienced.”

TED’s Secret to Great Public Speaking
Chris Anderson
TEDStudio New York City, March 2016
“Ideas are the most powerful force shaping human culture.” Ideas shape us and change us now. We carry this change into future attitudes and behaviors. 

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I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.

The 2016 TED Talk Experiment- Week 9

TED talk blog graphic 2

Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection
Reshma Saujani
TED2016 Vancouver British Columbia, February 2016
Powerful. Game changing. Growing up, boys are encouraged to take risks far more than girls. To address this, Saujani started a company to teach girls to code. Learning perseverance, how to fail and try again, in coding in turn taught them to be brave and freed them from the debilitating trap of perfectionism.

Photos from a Storm Chaser
Camille Seaman
TED2013  Long Beach California, February 2013
The photos are as spectacular as the story at the beginning of this talk reminding us our interconnectedness with all of creation.

The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold
Morgan Spurlock
TED2011 Long Beach California, February 2011
I have tremendous respect for the work of Morgan Spurlock. He immerses himself in situations, often at danger and discomfort to himself, in order to bring awareness and change through the medium of documentary filmmaking. This talk highlighted themes of transparency, risk-taking, marketing, and branding, as explored in the making of his film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian
Graham Hill
TED2010 Long Beach California, February 2010
Consuming meat is expensive, hard on the environment, hard on our health, and cruel to animals raised as if they were assembly line products. Consider cutting your meat consumption by 70% by only eating meat on the weekends.  

How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings
David Grady
TED @ State Street Boston, November 2013
Simple idea – find out the goal of the meeting before accepting the invitation to attend.

******************
I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.