Allenhurst Presbyterian Church (Allenhurst, GA) Mon, 17 Jul 2017 20:04:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ice Cream Social: July 29, 2:00pm-4:00pm Mon, 17 Jul 2017 19:35:42 +0000 We invite you to attend our annual end-of-summer ice cream social! Come and enjoy some good fellowship and delicious hand churned ice cream! We will also be showing the movie Big Miracle!

“Reclaiming Wonder” April 22, 2012 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 17:42:33 +0000 Sermon 4-22-12 blog copy

“Trust in Jesus” Sun, 03 Jul 2011 16:00:55 +0000 Rev. Ben Beasley APC Sermon July 3, 2011 Mathew 11: 16-19; 25-30
The last few lines of our passage this morning
Contain some of the most cherished words in all of Scripture
The blessed assurance that Jesus will give us rest:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens
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”

This is an unusual Sunday
A day that has us thinking of tomorrow
And our Fourth of July celebrations, cookouts, and fireworks 
And because of this
As I contemplated our scripture passage this morning
Another poem’s last few lines came to mind
Lines which have become part of our American history
Lines of a poem carved on the pedestal
Of one of America’s most endearing and iconic images  
The Statue of Liberty
The complete poem is by Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus
And is called New Colossus
And it reads:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

A little known fact is that the Statue of liberty
At one time was also a lighthouse
The statue was designed with glass inserts in the sides of the torch
The torch held high by Lady Liberty
Served not only as a symbol of freedom
But as a light to help ships safely navigate into the harbor

The image of a lighthouse is an endearing one for Christians
The Bible makes it very clear
That we as Christians and as a church body
Are to be a light unto the world.
Jesus said:
You are the light of the world
A city built on a hill cannot be hidden
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

This idea of being a light, a beacon, has often been portrayed symbolically
With the image of a lighthouse
That is how it works with us
Our light is essentially the light of Jesus in us 
Meant to radiate out to others
So what does this mean in how we are to relate to others and the world in which we live?
Maybe an answer can be found in an old story of a lighthouse keeper 
Who worked on a rocky stretch of northeastern coast line
The keeper would received his new supply of oil once a month to keep the light burning
Not being far from shore, he had frequent guests
One night a woman from the village begged some oil to keep her family warm
Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp
Another needed some to lubricate a wheel
Since all the requests seemed legitimate and helped someone in need, the lighthouse keeper tried to help them all 
Toward the end of the month he noticed that the supply of oil was very low
Soon, it was gone, and the beacon light went out
That night several ships narrowly escaped being wrecked and miraculously no lives were lost 
When the authorities investigated
The man was very sorry for having let the light go out.
They asked him:
“You were given the oil for one purpose – to keep that light burning.”
How could you take such a risk?
His only answer was that he trusted God

We, as Christians and as a church body, are called to be a light to others
To place our faith, hope and trust in God alone
Which means we have to change our values to those of Christ
Which means we are called to trust in Jesus as Savior
To live the call of God’s Word,
And serve the people and the world God loves
Just as the lighthouse keeper served those in need 

As Christians that is how we celebrate our freedom
And that is how we proclaim our liberty
In service to others
When we enter into the worship of the triune God
We give witness to the truth that we are citizens of a commonwealth
Wider than even the nation of our birth
By serving others
We are, as members of the body of Christ across time and space
Christians without borders
In the liturgy of our worship we enact a story of salvation that subsumes all other stories.
In baptism we are granted a new identity that transcends all the rest 
As Dietrich Bonheoffer insisted:
“We belong to Christ alone, and relate to the world only through Christ.”
We put our faith, hope and trust in God alone

In our passage this morning
I believe Jesus is calling us to that higher standard
Noting just how difficult that is for us because we have become overly judgmental and enmeshed in the world around us
That is what Jesus was complaining about of his own generation 
By pointing to the children
I believe he is pointing out
How we grow up and become hardened by the world
We do not easily accept another as children so easily do 
We become more guarded and less trusting
Hording our oil so to speak
Which makes it harder for us to serve one another as the lighthouse keeper did 
Placing his trust fully with God
Jesus offers an example of this
In talking about his own generation
And how they judged John the Baptist and himself by worldly standards
And I believe it would be about the same today  

Couldn’t you just hear the talk now
If there was this crazy John the Baptist guy
Standing in the Ogeechee river, eating horseflies and honey, covered in goat’s hair, screaming about the end of the world
Saying that a savior was coming who will baptize with fire
We might think he has a demon too!
At the very least we might be telling others not to go down to the river…
That man’s crazy!
What would be the talk if Jesus was around today?
I could hear us wondering about his “divinity” 
Gossiping with each other about how he filled up the jars of wine at a wedding so the party could go on into the night
And oh my!
The rumor mill that would be churning just hearing of those sinners he had dinner with! 
We judge, and judge, and judge
Just listen to people sometimes!
Just listen to our news!
It get’s tiring
It’s like an expression I heard recently
“I’m just so sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
It get’s so tiring that maybe we need to take seriously those last few lines of our passage this morning
Calling us to lay down our worries and burdens of earthly troubles and concerns
And give them over to Jesus that he might give us rest
What could this mean?
In essence it means:
As William Goettler writes in Feasting on the Word that
“Jesus is present in times of need, in times of plenty, in times of desperation in times of certainty, and I would add in times of uncertainty

To say that we worry too much just might be an understatement
We live in a world where we are bombarded daily with things we need to worry about 
Global worries, economic worries, worries about crime, environmental worries, medical worries, worries over friendships and relationships
It never seems to end and all these worries just won’t go away
And eventually I believe all this worry spills over into our spiritual lives as well
We start worrying if we are doing enough to please God?
Are we making enough of a difference to the least of these in our society?
Are we missing God’s signals for our life?
Are we living our lives to the fullest for God?

As we read Jesus words to the crowds this morning they could sound like an infomercial to help with all the worry in our life:

“Are you tired? Worried? Full of unanswered questions? 
Come to me, and I will give you rest
Here you will find rest for your souls!”

We hear those words and sigh:
“If that were only true”
“If only it were that easy”
And the amazing thing is that it can be!

In a book of daily devotions called Disciplines
Susie Knedlik writes about her time in Seminary
She would commute to school 
And each week she drove past a sign
Painted on an overpass that read:
“Trust Jesus”
That’s all it said.
She says as she drove her weekly route
That phrase became a mantra
That helped her make it through some tough years
“Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus…”
Susie goes on to say
We don’t have to know all the answers
We don’t even have to do battle with national politics, our bodies, our sins, or anything else by ourselves
What we can do is say yes, to Jesus invitation to release and rest
It is a learning process
With eternal benefits

The words on that overpass that Susie saw each week 
Trust Jesus
I believe, can be a mantra we can all take with us this morning
A mantra we can recite with each breath 
That can help free us from worry and fear
Then no matter what we might face we can learn to relax with an unburdened spirit and find rest for our souls
Trusting Jesus is about learning how to speak civilly about our differences
Trusting Jesus is about attempting to reconcile with those who differ from us
Trusting Jesus is about taking up the cause of justice for those who are treated unjustly
Trusting Jesus is about serving others even in the face of uncertainty
All these are things we should strive for as Christians
Because in doing so
What we are ultimately saying is that we trust Jesus in all things!
And it is from just such a perspective
That we can proclaim with conviction 
Words which sound vaguely familiar to those of Jesus
Like an echo reverberating between each of those lines 
Carved on that most iconic of American Images: 
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens
And I will give you rest
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
For I am gentle and humble in heart
And you will find rest for your souls
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
May we trust in Jesus in all things
In the Name of the Father and the Son And the Holy Spirit 
“A Christian Way of Life” Sun, 26 Jun 2011 16:00:00 +0000 Rev. Ben Beasley APC Sermon 6/29/11 Romans 6:1-5; 12-23
When I was in Seminary a friend of mine joked
About making and selling t-shirts based on this morning’s passage
She got the idea from Paul’s opening statement
“Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?”
The t-shirts would have “Sin Boldly” written across the front
And the words
“So that Grace May Abound” written on the back 

I actually think we could have sold a few around town
Even if people didn’t understand what was written on the back
They probably would have bought them for the “Sin Boldly” statement on the front 

We quickly recognize how absurd Paul considers such a statement from his very own emphatic answer immediately following the question
“By No Means!” 

It would appear Paul was responding to some pot shots being directed at his Christian ideas
Specifically concerning his concept of Justification
Which means:
God’s act of declaring or making a sinner righteous before God through God’s free gift of grace
Grace we receive through no act of our own
It seems some in the community were using Paul’s writings on this topic to justify their own sinful lifestyles
Therefore Paul felt he needed to clarify this concept so that people would not go about claiming that since we are justified by God’s free gift of grace
And not by anything we do ourselves
There is no reason for, or obligation to, ethical living

Maybe Paul even saw the phrase
“ Go Ahead & Sin Grace Abounds”
On a passing chariot bumper sticker
Or maybe he saw it as a headline in the local editorial page of the Daily Empire
And felt he had to respond
Whatever the case
Even if he created the argument as a rhetorical device
In order to argue against such a claim
We have his argument laid out here in Romans 6
Paul uses this question concerning sin and grace as the springboard to discuss his own theology concerning sin and the Christian way of life in relation to sin
Specifically in light of ones baptism, God’s grace, and our own sanctification
Which can be defined as being made holy and growing in God’s grace through Christ’s atoning act on the cross

In order to fully understand our Scriptural passage this morning
We really need to take into account
Paul’s own question:
How can we who have died to sin go on living in it?
For Paul still living in sin would be unfathomable considering our living a new life in Christ
For Paul the death of Christ to which we are intrinsically bound through the waters of baptism
Symbolizes the end of our old way of life
And the resurrection of a new way of life
This new life requires a decisive break from the old
This new life is born through our own faith
Symbolized and sealed through our Baptism
It is Baptism that is really the main crux of Paul’s argument
Looking back to verse 3 Paul argues
Do you not know (a little jab at his detractors)
That all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
Were baptized into his death?
For Paul, the resurrection rocked his world, his faith and transformed him!
Paul realized that before he could live a new life in Christ
First he had to die to self.
Paul writes,
“We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death
So that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father
So we too might walk in newness of life
For if we have been united with him in a death like his
We will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his
The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God.” 

So as Christians we too must consider ourselves dead to sin
And alive to God in Christ Jesus.
And live our lives accordingly
As a gracious response to Christ sacrifice and God’s free gift of grace 

Paul is saying that for Christians
Baptism is the outward act
Which declares that our lives are yielded in loyalty and obedience to Christ
It is this obedience that Paul refers to in our passage this morning in verse 17
“But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves to sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted…”

We are obedient
As a grateful response to this new life we have been given in Christ

Baptism is our being united with Christ
We have submitted ourselves to the waters of Baptism and have risen into new life
In a sense we die to self
Having been as Paul says, set free from sin
And having been set free from the bondage of sin
We have become slaves of righteousness
The grip in which sin held us has been broken
We take on a new outlook regarding our own lives
Through Christ we find a reason for and obligation to ethical living
We see things differently
And in response we act differently
When considering this idea of seeing things differently
And it being Summer
I immediately thought of the beach
You see when I go to the beach
There is something I like to do
I wade out into the ocean beyond the surf to about five feet of water
I then submerge myself under the water
Pull my knees up to my chest
And holding my breath
I stay under the water as long as I can
After a few seconds I am slowly able to hear the muffled sounds of the waves breaking against the shore
They are slow and rhythmical like a muffled heartbeat
I feel as if I am transported back into the womb and the embryonic bath from which we came
When I come up from the water
I look around at all the people playing in the ocean
And throwing Frisbees on the beach
And somehow things look a little different
Like I have been through this amazing experience
While those around me have not
It feels a little other-worldly

I believe this is similar to what Paul is saying in our passage this morning
Rising from the waters of Baptism we see things differently
But Paul takes it one step further
Not only do we see things differently
We inevitably live our life differently
In light of our gratefulness towards God’s gift to us

Considering Paul’s views
You may be wondering about what this means in relation to Infant or a child’s baptism
According to David Bartlett who teaches NT studies at Columbia Seminary
An infant or child’s baptism probably wasn’t even on Paul’s radar
The only possible evidence of it taking place in Paul’s time would be the writings that mention whole families being baptized together
But even then Dr. Bartlett believed this practice only involved the adults of the household
However, I believe Paul’s ideas on baptism
Not only as a covenant
But also as a lens
Through which we see things differently
And live our lives differently
Are instilled in children who are baptized through their parents
And the church community
Who accept the charge at the time of baptism
To guide and nurture them by word and deed with love and prayer
Helping guide them in their faith journey
Helping them to also live their lives differently

What this passage helps us ultimately understand, I believe, is this dichotomy presented by Paul of a worldly or secular outlook on life and a Christian one
Lived in graciousness towards God’s gift to us
Our Christian life is a gift from God in Christ
Who has cleansed us
Placed his seal on us and a right Spirit within us
Symbolized through our baptism
And Emerging from the Baptismal waters
We live our life in grateful response to God’s free gift of grace
For Paul says our former selves die through the act of baptism
The language of death here Paul pushes
Towards our new identity with Christ
Our old self is crucified
The past and what it meant to us is destroyed
That we may no longer be slaves to sin
“For we are dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ”
As Christians a new life is something we experience
Imperfectly of course
But genuinely enough
At least we try
We may fall, and we will certainly still sin
But we are also grateful and acknowledge that our new life in Christ carries an expectation
Of a life lived in obedience to our Lord and Savior
For to live in Christ is to desire to please God
And act according to God’s will
Our old life is gone
Our new life has begun
Slaves to sin no more
Our desire now is but to do justice
To love Kindness
And to walk humbly with our God
Our desire is to demonstrate the truth of our bold claim
That Christ died that we might have a new life and have it abundantly
My hope for you this morning is that you would accept God’s free gift of grace
And live in the knowledge and joy of being freed from the wages of sin and death
Living a new life re-committing yourself once again to Christ in faithful obedience
Obeying by reading God’s Word
Obeying by spending time daily in prayer
Obeying by living your life by the fruits of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance.
Obeying by being faithful and loyal in every way to the Church
All these are ways we live our lives, obediently, faithfully, and differently
All these are ways we live in gratefulness to God’s everlasting gift to us
All these are ways we live in obedience to him

Reverend Samuel Porter Jones, the great Methodist Preacher and Evangelist
from Cartersville, Georgia
Famously used to say:
"Quit your meanness."
That's what it means to follow and serve Christ!

While the forces of the world are still strong among us
Our Christian way of life is to rise above them
In a sense “to quit our meanness”
Striving to make the world a better place
Through Christ centered lives
And helping to bring others to a new life in Christ as well
Changing the world one person at a time
Should we continue to sin in order that grace may abound?
In the light of our baptism, Christ sacrifice, and God’s free gift of grace
By No Means!

In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit