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March 21, 2017, 11:52 AM

Lent 2

“Don’t be a hypocrite,” is a statement that we use and hear a lot in our culture. It is also a word that Jesus uses a lot in His sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5-7. Hypocrite is the Greek word for actor. In a simplistic understanding a hypocrite is someone who pretends. This happens a lot in our Church as a whole. People claim to be a follower of Christ, but their actions speak very differently. It seems that a lot of people put on a very good show, especially on Sunday’s, but for the most part of their lives that is not who they really are. A few verses from Matthew will bring out my point. “And when you fast. Don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have3 their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6)

Jesus is not speaking out against fasting or against people who do certain practices in the Church. In fact, this passage is making the case to fast. However, when we discipline ourselves in these ways we should be doing them for the right reasons. We definitely should not be doing them because we believe we should or for religious sake. Our spiritual disciplines should be something we desire because we know they bring us closer to the Lord and each other. A hypocrite is someone who does these certain acts so that they can appear to others that they have a relationship with God. They do it for status or praise or begrudgingly. This goes for any spiritual discipline; prayer, scripture reading, acts of mercy, worship, etc.… What is the point of doing these things if all it brings is glory to yourself? A hypocrite is someone who only thinks of themselves. They want the praise. They want people to notice them. Just like actors on the stage, they want to be able to take a bow in recognition of their performance.

As we journey together through this season of Lent one of the ways in which we can reflect upon our relationship with God is asking the question “why”. Why am I really doing what I do? What is the reasoning behind my actions? Why do I come to Sunday Worship? Why do I read the Bible? Why am I fasting? Why do I pray? Am I being a hypocrite with my religion? A true authentic church is one that asks these questions. For me personally I do these things in hopes that I bring glory to God. The highest compliment I can give God is to not even be in the picture when people see me. I want them to only see Christ in me. Lent is about self-denial. A good word that we need to know is the Greek word kenosis. It means: emptying ourselves. The word kenosis appears in Philippians 2:7, “But he [Jesus] emptied (kenosis) himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings.” Lent is a season of emptying ourselves so that we may be filled with God’s presence. How can we be a hypocrite if we have denied all of our selfish desires so that Christ may be seen more clearly in the world? This should be our attitude as Christ followers. We point to Christ in all that we do. Our disciplines must reflect this goal. And we do not do this for our sake, but for the sake of all people especially those who do not know the love of Christ. Let us truly ask the question of St. Paul’s UMC; are we being authentic or hypocrites?

Love in Christ through the Holy Spirit

Rev. Rusty L. Husted




March 4, 2017, 1:37 PM

Lent

The season of Lent is upon us. Lent is the seven weeks leading up to Easter. It is a solemn season where we travel toward Jerusalem and the cross with Jesus. It is during this time that our prayers and thinking shift. Starting on Ash Wednesday (March 1) we begin to contemplate the meaning of the cross. The cross in its time was a device of torture. It was designed to make a human suffer for as long as possible till the human hung on it died. During Lent, we contemplate our own mortality. From the dust of the earth we were created and when we die we will return to the dust. This is not to say that we our hopeless. The cross also gives us tremendous hope. The cross was also the instrument that God used to save us. Christ died to set us free from bondage of sin. Up until the cross, sin was the ruler of our hearts. Now that Christ died and rose again sin is no longer the slave master. We now have a new Master, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As Paul puts it in Romans 6, “So what? Should we sin because we aren’t under Law but under grace? Absolutely not! Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness. But thank god that although you used to be slaves of sin, you gave wholehearted obedience to the teaching that was handed down to you, which provides a pattern. Now that you have been set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.” “Slaves of righteousness!” The cross has broken the bonds of sin in your life so that death would not be a fear, but a sign of faithful living for Jesus Christ. We die each day for the sake of righteousness. We die for the sake of love, kindness, joy, peace, justice, and grace. We die each day for the sake of each other and all of creation. This is why Lent is so important to us because it asks the question; “are you willing to die?” This is why the common Lent practice is fasting. Are you willing to give up some common aspect of your life as a sign that you are willing to sacrifice your life for Christ? You can fast just about anything; food, TV, Facebook, the news, talking about politics, really just about anything that can distract you from the Lord. The only rule to fasting is that it needs to be something that is hard to give up in your daily life. Along with fasting, prayer is also key to observing Lent. Reading the scriptures and prayer go hand in hand. Along with fasting, add more time to your daily lives for prayer and scripture reading. Remember, it is the Word of God that brings life. To help with this season of Lent I want to give you the opportunity to travel with me on a Lenten Journey and devotional time. Starting Ash Wednesday, we will begin reading a daily devotional called “Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine journey through Lent” by Albert Holtz, O.S.B. On Wednesday, March 8, we will begin to meet for discussion on what we have read. Even if you cannot make the Wednesday meetings I encourage you to join us on our daily journey. Leading up to Lent I only ask that you contemplate what you will fast from. I hope you join me on the Lenten journey so that we can travel with Jesus on His way to the cross.

Love in Christ through the Holy Spirit

Rev. Rusty L. Husted




January 19, 2017, 9:18 AM

January Note from Pastor

We have entered 2017. A new year with new possibilities. It is a time to begin fresh and start new things. My hope this year is that we can see the value in new things. God always wants to start new things with us. Somewhere in our beliefs we have gotten the idea that God finished creating on the sixth day and that everything that will be has already been created. Revelation 21 reminds us that God is making all things new. God is not finished with us. He is definitely not finished with St. Paul’s UMC in Boise City. I believe that God can do something new with us, if we seek His will and see what He is doing in our community. That is one thing that we must realize is that it is God’s work not ours.

As I came to this community and family of faith this past year I noticed that our morale was very low. It seemed that we were stuck in a rut and could find a new path where God could openly work in our lives. That is what I hope we can change this next year. We all need to take part in the new thing that God wants to do this year. First, I hope that everyone is praying. Praying for our church, its members, and the community which we serve is vital to the mission of God. Prayer actually changes things. Pray for the leadership of the church. The church voted this past Charge Conference to move to a simplified governance. We combined the SPRC, Trustee’s, and Finance committees into one Church Governance. Our hope is that the communication breakdown that we experienced with the three separate committees will be mended. With the daily operations being addressed, the Church Governance will also explore the will of God and see how we can best serve Him and His mission in our local area. To help us in this we will be reading a book entitled “Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith” by Henry H. Knight III & F. Douglas Powe. This is a great book that hopefully will guide us by opening us up to how we can share the gospel as a church. I entreat all people to read this book. If you would like a copy, let Kim know and she can order you one. One last thing on the Church Governance. Our meetings our open to all who would like to join us on this journey into discovering the new things God wants to do with us. This Governance is not just a business meeting, but an opportunity to pray and seek God and what He is doing in the world. Please join us on this journey if you would like.

The second thing I would ask from all of you is to reflect upon your priorities. For something new to begin, our priorities must be a concern. Is Christ at the center of your vision, or does He take a back seat to other things? When we reflect upon our priorities this does not strip the importance of our lives. When we put Christ at the center of our vision, we see the other priorities in life through a new lens. Our jobs are important but, how would they look through the lens of Christ? Would they be different? Would you see the people you interact with differently? Am I a different person on Sunday compared to the rest of the week? Reflecting upon your priorities is essential because it makes us take a hard look at the effect Christ has in our lives. This also helps us see where the Church stands in our priorities. The Church is the central outpost for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is not something we do, but something we are a part of. In our baptism, we are initiated into the Body of Christ or the Church. It is not a country club that we pay dues to and show up when convenient, but an essential part of our lives. Have you taken a role in the Church? This year I am looking for people who want to do new things. As you pray, if God gives you an idea to try, come forward and let’s try it. If we stay in the shadows and fear of life we will never live up to the life God wants us to have and share with others. Take a chance and see what God can do through you this next year.

The last thing I ask is for patience. When new things begin, they take time to see results. We are not looking for a quick fix to our situation. We are not trying to put a band-aid on it. We are trying to return to our first love, Jesus Christ and see what He can do with/through us. We are trying new things. Instead of writing them off or saying they can’t work, let’s have the attitude that with God all things are possible. What works in one place might not work everywhere and vise-versa. Our focus is not getting new members, our focus is to spread the love of Jesus Christ to all people. If we are faithful to this calling, then God will provide the way and the people. We need to stop thinking of the Church as a business and start believing in it as a calling. For this to happen we need patience. We need to try new things to see if they work. If they do work then praise God, if they don’t work then praise God. How can we fail if our focus is on sharing the Love of Christ? Loving people is never a failure for “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13). I have high hopes for this new year. I hope you can share with me in this hope through your prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

Love in Christ through the Holy Spirit

Rev. Rusty L. Husted

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