Sermon Recording: Recognizing a Heart of War (James 3.13-18)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Psalm 34:14        Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace

We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.

As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.

James 3:13-18 The Voice
13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.

Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.

Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.

  1. God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
    • Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
    • Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
  1. God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God

Max Lucado quote                                                                         
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!

God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.

But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.

All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.

Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.

anatomy of peace boxesThis limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.

  1. Better-than box
    • I see the world as competitive, troubled
    • I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
    • I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
  1. Worse-than box
    • I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
    • I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
    • If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
  1. I Deserve box
    • I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
    • People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
    • I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
  1. Must be seen box
    • I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
    • I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?

My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin

What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.

You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.

Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.

If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.

Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion,     the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.

Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.

Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.

Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.

Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.

Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.

Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.

Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording: Cultivating a Heart of Peace (Matthew 5.43-48)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 1 of 4: Cultivating a Heart of Peace
Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48
These are the notes from a message offered 9/16/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Read Matthew 5:43-48, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. God desires to perfect us in love.

Video: Tiffany Jenkins, A lady got mad at me at the drive through, my response

What stands out to you in this video?

  • She’s honest about her feelings (punch her in the throat)
  • She broke the cycle of conflict with an act of generosity and kindness. She used made a choice about how to respond.
  • She looked below the surface to imagine what might really be going on empathy
    • “Those people who are hardest to love need love the most”
  • She saw the person as a person
  • She believes changing our words and actions can change the world

Tiffany Jenkins has a heart of peace.

Bishop Ken Carter Quote: A heart at peace is not about just being nice to another person. It is the refusal to exaggerate our differences, and the refusal to go to war with another person. A heart of peace seeks to break the cycle that escalates our conflicts through working at the relational level and sees the other as a person created in the image of God.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

way of being diagram the anatomy of peace

What we see is the behavior. What a person is doing and saying. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Below the surface is where that behavior is born- our thoughts, feelings, wounds, beliefs, and sin color how we see the situation and how we see others.

The angry woman in the drive-through had a heart of war. We see her behavior- the frustration, anger, impatience, overreacting. We don’t know why she has a heart of war- what’s going on below the surface, but we can see the result.

  • She didn’t see Tiffany or her child as people. They’ve become an obstacle to be overcome, a problem to be fixed.
  • The angry woman felt her needs mattered more than the needs of those around her, including Tiffany

A Heart of War can lead to all kinds of destruction and injustice. If you are no longer a human being to me, I can take advantage of you, hurt you, oppress you, enslave you.

There’s another option- a heart of peace. 

  • Seeing people as people, not as objects or obstacles or problem to be fixed
  • You are real to me, as real as I am to myself. I see you.
  • Your cares and concerns matter just as much as my own. I value you.

This idea, seeing and valuing people, is rooted in Genesis 1:26-27. 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You are made in the image of God. You and every person you meet. God’s intention for you is goodness and wholeness, freedom and blessing. God has the same intention for every person you meet.

Thank You for extending me your heart of peace, your generosity of spirit towards me and my family following the death of my grandmother. We were wrapped in a warm blanket of cards, prayers, words of consolation and help.

Ten family members gathered around the table following my grandmother’s graveside service. Yes, we remembered her, but there was also laughter and a spirit of hope, of looking to the future.

We hadn’t all been together for 7 years. I was hoping and praying for peace. It isn’t always that way when a family gets together, when we go to work, go to school, go to the condo board meeting, or even in a drive-through. Now the political season is in high gear with its ugliness and accusations.

Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to foster peace in the midst of evil, controversy, and conflict.

How do we do it? Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

  1. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it in our own strength. This is about hearts of stone becoming hearts of flesh and that is a work of God.
    • Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
  2. Depart from evil. Ask God to reveal the ways you contribute to conflict and leave them behind.  Pray for healing, forgiveness, and strength to live a new life in Christ.
  3. Do good. Seek Peace. Pursue it. Intentionally learn new ways of being and behaving.

Cultivating Peace

  1. See people as people made in the image of God
  2. Look below the surface for what’s really going on
  3. Break the cycle of escalation. The war stops with me. Choose carefully how to respond.
  4. Help the situation, do good

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Growing in Resilience: The Way of Peace, based on Isaiah 59.8

peace be with youGrowing in Resilience
Day 20, Read Isaiah 59
Reflection: The Way of Peace,
based on Isaiah 59:8, NRSV

The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths. Their roads they have made crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace.

You
You are the Way
Your way is Peace
An unbent highway of life-giving words
Truth, Dignity, Encouragement
We will know you
We will walk in your ways

You
You are the Way
Your way is Peace
A shining path of justice
Integrity, Impartiality, Redemption
We will know you
We will walk in your ways

You
You are the Way
Your way is Peace
An unbroken road of sanctuary
Safety, Belonging, Becoming
We will know you
We will walk in your ways

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

The Way of Peace © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Difficult Conversations based on Matthew 15.11

speak truthBased on Matthew 15:11
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles.

Jesus, Word of Life, open my lips
Release from me what is of you
Save me from all that defiles and degrades.
Save me from words as weapons
A heart at war

Inspire and guide my words as I have a difficult conversation with ________ today.
We need you.

Lord, open my lips
Release from me what is of you
Let loose what is good and full of truth
Words ringing with your grace and hope
A witness to your mercy and deliverance
An invitation to reconciliation and new life
A call to choose you and your ways and the common good

Lord, open my lips
Release from me what is of you
Send forth your word and your kingdom shall be born in us
Amen

Recommended Resource

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Prayer for Difficult Conversations © 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.

Scriptures for Life on the War of Words Battlefield

power-of-wordsWe live on the battlefield of the war of words. Let us recognize their power to create and to destroy, choosing, by the grace of God, to use their power for healing, peacemaking, truth telling, and inspiring the common good. – Lisa Degrenia

From the Book of Proverbs
Lying lips conceal hatred, and whoever utters slander is a fool.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
But the prudent are restrained in speech.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth.
The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Proverbs 10:18-21)

Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil,
But those who counsel peace have joy. (Proverbs 12:18-20)

From the fruit of their words good persons eat good things,
But the desire of the treacherous is for wrongdoing.
Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives;
Those who open wide their lips come to ruin. (Proverbs 13:2-3)

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:1-2, 4)

From the fruit of the mouth one’s stomach is satisfied;
The yield of the lips brings satisfaction.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:20-21)

It can sway men to violence, or it can move them to the noblest actions. It can instruct the ignorant, encourage the dejected, comfort the sorrowing, and soothe the dying. Or it can crush the human spirit, destroy reputations, spread distrust and hate, and bring nations to the brink of war.
– Curtis Vaughan in James, a study guide 

From the Book of Psalms
Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
The faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,
Those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
Our lips are our own — who is our master?” (Psalm 12:1-4)

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 34:11-14)

Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery.
You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth.
You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. (Psalm 52:1-4)

My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me
With speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war;
With words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords.
(Psalm 55:20-21)

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the scheming of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords,
Who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless;
They shoot suddenly and without fear.
They hold fast to their evil purpose;
They talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see us?
Who can search out our crimes? We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.”
For the human heart and mind are deep.
But God will shoot his arrow at them; they will be wounded suddenly.
Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin;
All who see them will shake with horror. (Psalm 64:2-8)

Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;
Protect me from those who are violent,
Who plan evil things in their minds and stir up wars continually.
They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s,
And under their lips is the venom of vipers. (Psalm 140:1-3)

Every idle word we utter betrays our lack of respect for our neighbor, and shows that we place ourselves on a pinnacle above him and value our own lives higher than his. The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart; it seeks to hit, to hurt and to destroy. A deliberate insult is even worse, for we are then openly disgracing our brother in the eyes of the world, and causing others to despise him. With our hearts burning with hatred, we seek to annihilate his moral and material existence. We are passing judgment on him, and that is murder. And the murderer himself will be judged. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship

All five chapters in the book of James refer to the power of words.
Chapter 1
You must understand this, my beloved:let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger (1:19)
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. (1:26)

Chapter 2
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. (2:12)

Chapter 3
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue— a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. (3:1-12)

Chapter 4
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?(4:11-12)

Chapter 5
Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (5:12)

The Sentinel’s Prayer (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

blow shofar awake

Ezekiel 33:1-9 NRSV
The word of the Lord came to me: O Mortal, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.

So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Jesus, Word made flesh,
Teach me to speak
Fill my mouth with your warning and wisdom
Raise my voice in alarm- with a cry of truth, justice and repentance
Open my lips in hope- with your call to salvation and healing

Your word is sharp- a two edged sword
Your word is challenge and change agent
Your word is life- grace and freedom
Breaking chains and falsehood
Destroying idols, prejudice, and dividing walls

Give me your words
Give me your sight and insight
Give me your courage, steadfast and persevering
Give me all I need to be your sentinel
That we may all live

This prayer was written in response to the Pulse Orlando massacre. In reading Ezekiel 33, I felt God calling me to speak out more by both naming the violence and injustice of our society and using my voice to speak peace, welcome, truth, and justice. God creates by speaking and invites us to join our voices to this saving work. When we don’t speak, people die. – Lisa <><  

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The Sentinel’s Prayer © 2016 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.

2016 TED Talk Experiment- Week 6

TED talk blog graphic 2
All the talks chosen for week 6 are less than 10 minutes each. Everyone’s got time for some quick inspiration, so check one out.

Underwater Astonishments
David Gallo
TED 2007 Monterey California, March 2007
Bioluminescence and amazing camouflage. So fun! Be sure to show this one to the kids.

The Art of Misdirection
Apollo Robins
TED Global 2013 Edinburgh Scotland, June 2013
Watched this one a couple of times. Clever and unnerving.

How to Speak So That People Want to Listen
Julian Treasure
TED Global 2013 Edinburgh Scotland, June 2013
A mini master class in public speaking. Excellent! It includes

  • the 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking: Gossiping, Judging, Negativity, Complaining (Viral Misery), Excuses (Blame Thrower), Exaggeration (which often becomes lying), Dogmatism (Confusion of facts and opinions)
  • the 4 cornerstones of speech which are powerful and can bring change, HAIL: Honesty (straight and clear), Authenticity (be yourself), Integrity (be your word, do what you say), Love (bless, wish them well)
  • 6 vocal warm up exercises

A 3D Atlas of the Universe
Carter Emmart
TED 2010 Long Beach California, February 2010
A beautiful and humbling look at our tiny place in the universe.

5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams
Bel Pesce
TED Global, October 2014
Classic insights from a delightful presenter.

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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.