Sermon – September 17, 2017

We Can Work It Out: Forgive Like God, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

Ephesians 4:25-32

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Sermon – September 10, 2017

We Can Work It Out: Bear With One Another, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

Colossians 3:12-15

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Sermon – August 27, 2017

Who Am I Becoming? Keep On, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

James 1:1-8

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Sermon – January 22, 2017

BPUMC_Podcast_LogoCommunity On Purpose, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Week 6: July 12-18

Numbers – Community

Ask.

  • What kind of person just really drives you crazy?
  • What have you been told is something that you do that drives a friend or family member crazy?
  • Do you actively try to stop doing it or have they just had to learn to deal with it?

Listen.

During their wandering years in the wilderness, living so close to each other in such difficult conditions created a great deal of tension between the people of Israel. Family and neighbors complained, accused each other of theft or unfaithfulness and gossiped about each other. Many often threatened to turn around and go back to Egypt, claiming that slavery was even better than this. Tempers ran high. There were arguments and even physical violence in the camp of the Israelites. To combat this, God gave Moses and the Israelites very specific rules for how to live in holy community with one another. Some people were put in charge, but not to rule over the others like Egyptians had with the crack of the whip. And other men and women could take special vows to live holy lives of clean living that was even higher than those of their neighbors. They didn’t do this to build themselves up, but to serve as an example for those around them of what was possible if they lived for God and in peace with each other. The priests had to pray for those they guided.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

The Lord life up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

(Numbers 6:22-27)

There were rules, tough rules, for the Israelites. They often seem arbitrary and even cruel by our standards. But they existed to make sure that everyone was living a holy life, not just for themselves and for God, but for the people around them. God would travel with the people. They would see his presence in a great cloud that hovered above their camp. When the cloud moved, they would pack up and follow it. But following God’s command to trust him and love each other would prove more difficult than traveling through an actual desert.

Think.

In our youth group, we repeat the above scripture every week as our benediction on Wednesday nights. We stand in a circle, with right hand over left, holding the hands of those on either side. We look into each others’ eyes and say these words that were first spoken thousands of years ago. Do we say it with the same zeal? Sometimes it is easy because things are going great between us and those around us. And sometimes it’s hard. We may have very good reasons to be upset with those around us. God really expects us to look into the eyes of an ex or a frenemy and say that we hope that God makes their life awesome.

Remember.

The toughest prayers that we lift up are usually not the ones where we are asking for God’s blessing or forgiveness for ourselves. They are the ones when we pray for other people, especially if those people are difficult for us to get along with. These are powerful prayers and they reflect God’s will for our world. Living in community with God and with each other means high expectations. Everyone counts. Everyone matters.

Pray.

In your mind’s eye, see the face of the person who you most cannot stand or who makes your skin crawl. See the face of the person who has really done or said something bad about you. Now pray for them — not for God to knock them down a bit from their high horse, but pray that God blesses them like the blessing in Numbers 6:22-27 says to do.

More.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl2_knlv_xw

If We Could See Inside of Others’ Hearts –  Everyone Matters

Sermon – August 31, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthA Community Shares its Resources,” by Rev. Peter von Herrmann

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

Catching up.

For many people, Labor Day marks the end of the summer and the beginning of fall. As summer ends, many church members begin calculating how much they need to give to “catch up” on their pledge. We all intend to give weekly, but during the course of the summer we miss worship on Sundays and then don’t remember to “catch up” until fall begins.

As he writes to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds the church in Corinth to “catch up” on their giving to the offering for the poor in Jerusalem. This offering, which Paul collected from Gentile churches around the Roman Empire, was an important part of creating unity within the Christian church as a whole. The Corinthians had expressed enthusiasm at supporting this offering. Now, Paul was encouraging them to live up to their pledge.

We often make pledges and then, for whatever reason, “fall behind.” Maybe we have pledged to write an encouraging note, maybe to complete a project, maybe to support an important charity. Each moment, though, offers an opportunity to catch up with those pledges. Let’s think about how we can help others, and then not just talk about it, but be faithful to complete the tasks that God has set before us.

—Peter von Herrmann

The Word

2 Corinthians 8:1-14

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.

Sermon – August 24, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthHealing Relationships,” by Rev. Mike Holly

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

“Make room in your hearts,” Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth. Paul is pleading for reconciliation between the members of the church, a teacher who led them astray, and with Paul and his fellow missionaries. He desires that everyone would again sit at the table in harmony of spirit and singleness of mission.

Have you ever seen the Children’s message or the video clip of a child who is asked to pour a whole pitcher of water into a single cup? Some of the students stop when the cup is to the brim. Others keep pouring as the cup overflows. The message is clear: the cup only holds so much water. Our hearts are a different story. Our hearts have the ability to stretch in the metaphorical sense. Often, we think we know what love is until we are surprised by a gesture of love that is so great we could not have imagined it. We might ask, “how can a person love to that extent?” It is because their heart has been stretched so that the love more deeply and more broadly than before.

Forgiveness and reconciliation have the ability to help stretch our hearts. And I believe that this is what Paul is saying here. He’s not asking them to stop loving others so that there is room for them to love him and his fellow missionaries again. He is asking them to stretch in their ability to love because they have done the hard work of learning to forgive and to be reconciled to one another.

Bluff Park friends, may you never stop making room in your hearts!

—Mike Holly

The Word

2 Corinthians 7:2-4

Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction.

Sermon – August 17, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthTreasures in Jars of Clay,” by Rev. Mike Holly

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

Clay pots and jars were very important in the everyday lives of folks in Israel. They used clay pots for baking over a fire and clay jars for storing oil and other precious possessions. Clay vessels were widely used because they were relatively easy to make and were quite versatile. The problem with clay vessels then is the same problem with clay vessels today: they are fragile.

Paul mentions in 2nd Corinthians that Christians have a treasure in clay jars. We like clay are fragile, but God’s love and Spirit within us are like a precious treasure. We can’t boast because we’re simply the vessel. It’s the one who gave us this treasure that deserves the respect, honor and worship. During times of trouble and suffering, early Christians kept their minds set upon God, His love and His power. They endured and persevered because God’s light shined in the darkness.

The media has revealed to us for quite some time now that our brothers and sisters in Christ find themselves threatened and persecuted overseas. We must pray for them and hope that God’s light shines for each and everyone of them. At the same time, we must also consider in our own lives – are we willing to step out of our comfortable lives and dare to do the radical, loving and grace-ful things that God asks us to do in His name?

—Mike Holly

The Word

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

 

 

Sermon – August 3, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthMicah 6:8 Forgiveness,” by Miss Hannah Shultz

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

Our students will play vital roles in both the 8:45am and 11:00am services today. But in reality, they play a vital role in our congregation every day.

If you were around the church this summer, you probably saw our students volunteering with the community garden or Vacation Bible School, packing grocery bags for the food pantry, heading downtown to lead worship at Church of the Reconciler or to West End to entertain the McCoy Adult Day Care participants or to the First Light Shelter for fun activities with the women and children there. Away from our local church, you’d find our student alumni in ministry and mission through their Wesley Foundations (the United Methodist Church’s campus ministry), in rural Kentucky with Appalachia Service Project or in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Three of our college students (Sammy Slack, Stephen Copper and David Smith) served as summer-long interns leading activities and teaching our students here at Bluff Park.

One hundred and twenty-five different students participated in some type of student ministry event this summer. From outreach events like Monday Sports and Tribes to missions and service like Fun at First Light and Appalachia Service Project to spiritual growth opportunities like leading worship across North Alabama as part of our youth band tour…our students are active as the Body of Christ. We are so grateful to all the parents who assisted as chaperons, teachers and leaders. And we are also grateful to all the members of our church family, who support us through your gifts, prayers and encouragement. We could not have these experiences without you. THANK YOU.

The student leadership in worship today is a testimony to faithfulness of this congregation to our young people.

—In Christ, Bart Styes

 

The Word

2 Corinthians 2:4-11

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

Sermon – August 3, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthA Beneficial Mystery,” by Rev. Tom Duley

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

Today we are thinking about prayer. More specifically we are thinking about the sense of consolation and comfort that we have as a result of a life of prayer. Anyone who has ever prayed knows that our prayers are not always answered in the way that we want them to be. There is no formula to ensure that what we pray for happens. If we knew exactly how to pray so that we received everything we asked for we would be God and clearly we are not.

However, there are many positive benefits associated with a life of prayer. Chief among them is God’s consolation and comfort. When we pray deeply and consistently we develop a deep sense of peace; a bright awareness that we are in God’s hands surrounded by God’s love no matter what may come our way. That is God’s consolation and comfort at work in our lives. This sense of peace is especially real to us when we face afflictions and difficulties. We don’t always get our prayers answered in the way that we pray them. However, prayer always results in beneficial spiritual growth and insight. Knowing that we have God’s consolation in all things is surely one of the greatest benefits of a life of prayer.

~Rev. Tom Duley

The Word

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.