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Monday, March 18, 2019

“Memory of the Future” (Psalm 27)

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Second Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2019

            Your child works hard and makes A’s because he wants to get into the best college.    His test scores are tremendous, and he is near the top in class rankings.  He deserves it. Yale - no, rejected.  Stanford - no, rejected. You read of a scandal in the paper.  Wealthy parents spend hundreds of thousands to bribe the way in for their kids.  Their kids are wonderful young people, but did not earn that admission; yours did, and didn’t get it.
            You fear the gangs, the crime lords, and the murderers who run rampant in your country.  You’re afraid your 6-year-old child will grow up to be a criminal or a victim.  Neither the police nor the government in your country are any help.  So, you join throng of people who want to escape the deadly chaos and step into American freedom.  You walk across Mexico to the American border.  But, when you try to cross the exact thing you feared happens.  Your child is taken from you and you are put in one cage and your child in another.
            Struggle - so many people in so many different life situations struggle.  In our own church, we see people struggling with death as loved ones are taken from us and all we have is memory and grief.  
            We see American Christianity in a struggle for survival.  Disagreements over questions of LGBTQ inclusion rip through the Methodist Church, and through ours.  We look at all these issue - wealth disparity, border security v. Christian compassion, personal loss, and assaults on the church.  These struggles feel like threats, like attacks on our way of life or even on our very lives.  And I have not mentioned personal struggles you may be facing.  

            Struggle is an odd place to begin when Psalm 27 is our passage.  Psalms were songs sung in worship in Old Testament days, in the days of Jesus, and in our day.  One of my favorite Christians songs when I was in seminary was the text of Psalm 121 set to music and performed by Susan Ashton.  
            What’s the message in the song, Psalm 27?
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (v1)?  What do we hear?  “My adversaries and foes ... shall stumble and fall.” (v.2b).
            Is cancer your adversary?  Is poverty the foe who threatens you?  If Psalm 27 is your song and you sing in worship today and believe in God as David sang and believed in his day, then Cancer shall stumble.  If Psalm 27 is true, then poverty shall fall. 
            “Though an army encamp against me,” David sings in Psalm 27:3.  Though an army encamp against me, “my  heart will not fear.”  We join David, singing along, claiming his words as our own.  We sing, “Though war rise up against me, yet we will be confident.”  We are confident in God and confident in our confession of faith in God.  Dark times may come, but we face them knowing God’s got this.
            Here’s the problem.  The phrase “dark times” is a nebulous, undefined thing.  It’s vague, even meaningless.  But the struggles I named at the outset are real.  For that mom whose son has knocked himself out to get A’s only to hear Yale and Stanford and Southern Cal and Princeton all say “no” it’s real.  She knows he might get into another school, but to him, it feels like the world is crashing in.  How does she help him cope in a world so clearly unfair?
            For the mom, fleeing violence in Honduras only to be thrown into a cage and called an illegal immigrant in Arizona, the stakes are even higher.  How does she protect her child when she is powerless and there is no safe place in the world for her to go?
            And what about in your life?  Singing Psalm 27, cancer is your adversary and the adversary stumbles and falls.  Except it didn’t.  You prayed and cancer claimed your wife or your mom or your child.  That faith we confidently proclaim did not produce your desired outcome.  Now what? 
            Walter Brueggeman, a scholar who has written quite a bit about Old Testament theology, identifies lived experience and lived faith.  Lived experience violently collides with our first faith statement.  Our first faith statement is “God, is good.  God is in control.  Thus, things in my life will go well.”   That’s our sterile word of belief.  But then life crashes in and does so in very specific ways.  In one family, conflict between mother and daughter is so severe, years of estrangement ensue. In another family, a son signs up to serve his country and dies in the war; age 19.  In a church, the beloved pastor has brain cancer and has to step down when the congregation thought he would lead them for another decade.  Another church breaks its members’ hearts when it splits over a political issue even though the members agree on what they believe about Jesus.
            These struggles call into question the confident words of faith we want to sing along with David.  We want to be bold.  We know Good Friday ends on Easter Sunday.  Yes, we can see how bad that cross is, but we know it ends with resurrection.  We know it ... until we’re actually stuck on that Friday.  In that moment of utter loss and bone-wrenching pain, it’s tough to believe Easter will ever come.  It gets to be hard, if we’re honest, to believe God is really there.  Or, if he is either he’s not powerful, or he’s not good. That’s how it can seem we will feel the full force of the specific pain we’re trying to endure.
Don’t lose heart.  Read all the way through Psalm 27. David, the confident singer of verses 1-6, shows the same uncertainty in verses 7-12.  Lived experiences yields lived faith. 
The singer, in verse 8, sings, “‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek.  Do not hide your face from me.”  Why pray this prayer?  David, the singer, is worried God might hide His face.  David has had days he looked to God and could not see God.  All he could see were those who threatened him. 
His anguished prayer continues.  “Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.  Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation” (v.9).  He has had those days.  He has felt God’s anger, and worse, God’s absence.  He’s pleading, God please don’t leave me. 
How do we pray, when we feel like God has left and we are powerless and alone?  

Psalm 27’s tension is resolved in the final two verses.  “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (v.13-14)!  How does the singer move from uncertainty to this grounded faith that concludes the song on a high note?
I think the way David did is to remember the future.  I know that works for me, once I takes my eyes off my struggles and do the work of remembering.  How, you should ask, does come have memory of the future?
·         I recall specific answers to prayers.  The God who has answered prayer in my life will do so again.  Answered prayer.
·         Through its indescribable beauty, the created world, nature, testifies to God’s presence and goodness. The God who made this world good is still creating. The Testimony of Creation.
·         On retreats, in times of prayer, in times of solitude, I have felt the tangible presence of God.  As vast God is, the creator of all things has taken a moment, on occasion, to reach out to me.Some call these mountain top experiences.
·         God has given us a testimony - the Bible - and in it, we meet Him. The God who inspired the Bible still speaks through it. The Testimony of Scripture.
·         In the Bible, I read that resurrection is promised by one - Jesus - who has already done.  The God who resurrected His Son will do so again, resurrecting you and me, his adopted children.  Resurrection.
·         God promises to be present in the world through the Spirit and through the body of Christ - his church.  As flawed as we are, God still speaks through The Testimony of the Church.
These witnesses - answered prayer, creation, mountain top experiences, scripture, resurrection, and the church - tell who God is by reminding us of what God has done.  When we take in all God has done, then we can be assured that God will act in the days ahead of us.  The grief, the anxiety, the frustration - we feel these things in our lives.  That’s why our worship is an active act of seeking God.  No matter how hard our individual struggles get, we sing the words of David.  “One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire in His temple” (v.4).
            The seeker shall not be frustrated.  God has a promise of eternity in His kingdom, a kingdom of love and fellowship.  And God promises that no matter how rough life is here, God walks with us.  The seeker shall find God.  I can’t promise how life will turn out.  But I believe that when we seek, we find God, and finding God is the very best we can hope for.
            Whatever is happening in your life right now, seek the face of God.  Our church is here to help you do that.  The promises of scripture are here to help you find your way to Him.  Seek the God who loves you, who is waiting for you with open arms.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Heart of our Faith (Romans 10:8-13)

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First Sunday of Lent, March 10, 2019

* Originally preached at HillSong, October 31, 2010.

                Followers of Jesus Christ get quite passionate - sometimes about faith.  And sometimes that passion is directed toward hotly debated issues of the day.  This is not new.  One of the 12 disciples was Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15).  He was on fire for Israelite nationalism and he wanted Jesus to be as motivated as he was, but Jesus had a different agenda.  Simon was primed for a violent overthrow of Rome.  The way of Jesus the way of peace.  He subvert the social order through revolutionary love.  He prevented Simon and the other disciples from defending him the night he was arrested.  He ended up dying on a Roman cross.
            There’s the hot-button issue.  They come and go.  And then, there’s way of Jesus.  Simon the Zealot was a disciple who was passionate about the holiness of God’s people.  He wanted to see God’s people rule the land God had promised to Abraham and he could point to Old Testament passages as Biblical support for his zeal.  Today, true disciples of Jesus Christ pour their lives into movements they believe to be rooted in scripture. Consider the following:
Theological passion - some Christ-followers are ardent advocates of reformed theology.
Political involvement - some Christ-followers are so involved in politics it gets hard to distinguish their Christianity from their patriotism.
Social justice - the whole faith expression for some Christians is their adherence to the scriptures which declare God’s love for the needy and downtrodden.
Specific issues - one example (of many) is abortion; I have met Christians who entire faith expression is the pro-life, anti-abortion movement.

            I am not critiquing any of these issues or the people passionate about them.  I bring them up just to point out that people who love Jesus get wrapped up in specific issues and movements.  We are called to love as God loved us.  Often there are Christ-followers on both sides in these debates.  As important as the issues I have named and other issues are, these things are not the heart of who we are in Christ.  
That phrase in Christ names us.  This is who we are.  Everything - politics, identity, vocation - our very lives are determined by this phrase: in Christ.  
One of the Apostle Paul’s chief concerns in Romans is the heart.  How are sin and death defeated?  How is the heart transformed so that the person who was defined by sin is now defined by God’s righteousness?  There’s a one-word answer: Jesus.  (1) All people sin and are lost.  Paul emphasizes this in Romans 1-3.  Sin destroys us.  (2) The only hope for rescue from our sins and the damage they do is Jesus. We can only we stand before God when we stand in Christ.  Talking about Christ, we must talk about the crucial moment in the God-human story: Jesus Christ crucified, and resurrected.
Moving through the stories of Jesus we read during Lent we get to this point, the heart of our faith.  Romans 10:9-10.  “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.”
Everything about me proceeds from my belief that Jesus is Lord and that he is the resurrected one.  Everything about who I am stands on that belief.  No other argument, ministry, current issue, or theological debate can claim a disciple of Jesus.  How I vote does not show who I am.  Where you fall in a particular theological camp or ideological system does not tell me who you are.  Nothing we can argue about is the cornerstone or life blood.  Faith in Jesus is the ground on which we stand.  The Holy Spirit is the energy in us.  We are all about Jesus.  And when we speak of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection inform our thoughts.
To say we believe in Jesus is to say we are a confessing people.  Confession is our verbal witness.  We boldly speak our faith.  Our declaration is absolute and uncompromising.  Jesus is Lord.
When he met the resurrected Jesus, the Apostle Thomas shouted “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).  He was no longer “doubting Thomas.”  He became “confessing Thomas.”  In Philippians Paul writes that after Jesus died on the cross, God exalted Him so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (2:10-11a).  John of Patmos, writer of the book of Revelation, concludes that collection of spectacular visions by saying, “Amen!  Come Lord Jesus” (22:20)!
We are people who say it!  Jesus is Lord - Lord of our lives.  He’s our God, our Master, and our King.  Ours is a spoken faith. 
Our words, as we saw in Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain which we looked at last week, come from the faith we hold in our hearts.  Paul writes, “If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead ...”.  We know it intellectually.  Faith is rational.  But, what we know through measured reasoning also grips us in the deepest parts.  We hold this faith emotionally.  We speak it audibly because its too much to be contained.  We can’t keep it in and we shouldn’t.  Jesus is Savior and Lord. 
The message in Romans 10:9-10 is the heart of our faith.  Jesus and nothing else is the cornerstone of the church and the foundation of the individual believer’s life.  Every sinner needs Jesus and everyone sins.  Once we understand ourselves to be in Christ, we realize we are not just saved.  We’re called - called to share our faith.  We tell the good news of salvation in Jesus that others might hear and turn to him and themselves receive his grace and be saved.  
We can share our faith in countless ways and in just about any place; in the driveway after a one-on-one basketball game; at a bar with friends; at the coffee pot with a coworker; in an instant messaging conversation; while jogging; in the foxhole; at the kitchen table; before bedtime prayers; in a song; in a handwritten letter; with a neighbor over the backyard fence; through prison bars.  Jesus is Lord in all these places and we can speak our faith in Him in all circumstances. 
Paul says more about evangelism in Romans 10:14-17:
How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?  And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’  But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’  So faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. 

            For Paul, the witness of Christians is the hope the world needs.  In Romans 3:9, he writes, “We have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.”  In the next 9 verses, he make reference to 9 Old Testament passages that show that sin has plagued humanity in all ages.  He sums it up in verse 23 where he says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Arguments about border walls or who can or can’t get married fade to the background.  Paul’s concern is that all sin and thus all are permanently cut off from God.  It is a universal theme.
            But then in Romans 10, Paul declares a second universal theme.  Just as everyone sins, in Christ, everyone can find salvation.  Romans 10:12-13.  “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call him.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Just as sin’s curse and death’s cruelty are inflicted on all, so is God’s grace through Jesus available to all.  
            During Lent, we see our own need for God and in seeing, we step toward Him through repentance and confession.  You can begin this journey today.  If you have never put your trust in Jesus, you can do that today.  Come, confess your sin and ask Jesus into your heart.
If you are already a believer, speak your faith.  This morning, pray and ask God to give you the words and the opportunity to share Jesus with someone you know who needs Him.  Ask God to help you see how faith in the risen Lord is a present reality that defines our everyday lives.  Between now and Easter ask God to help you help someone you know find their way to Him.  
Throughout Lent, step toward Jesus.  Step into the heart of our faith.

Monday, March 4, 2019

United in Christ

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            We have to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church and in the Southern Baptist Convention.  These are the largest Christian bodies in the United States, and both are scandalized by crimes of sexual assault committed by priests and pastors.  First and foremost, our prayers are for the victims who have been traumatized by men entrusted to lead them to God.  I say men because only men can be priests and in most SBC churches, only men can be pastors.  These victims, in the past silenced by institutional power structures (usually dominated by white men), have found their voice and it high time.  We Cooperative Baptists have to pray for our fellow Christians who have suffered. We also pray that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.   Perhaps through punishment and reparations the perpetrators can be saved from the evil lurking within them.
            We have to pray for our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church.  Adherents to traditional marriage in that world-wide religious body outvoted advocates of same-sex marriage and ordaining gay clergy 53-47% at their general conference special meeting in the final week of February.  That difference of 6% indicates a major denominational body facing a dangerous split that has the potential to hurt the wonderful work of Christ Methodists have carried out for decades.  We must pray for our Methodist friends, that God will continue working through them to bring the world to salvation.
            Finally, we must pray for ourselves.  Here at HillSong, we are in the midst of a conversation similar to the ones the Methodists had and are continuing to have.  God wants lost people in Carrboro and Chapel Hill saved, carried from the destruction of sin to new life in Christ.  Our mission is to bear witness to the salvation we have in Christ and to help people become his followers. 
Our enemy, the devil, thoroughly loves seeing us invest our emotional enemy in whether or not gay people can be married in our church or whether or not gay people can be ordained as elders in our church.  When is the last time you or I became deeply moved by emotion as we see our neighbors who are unchurched and who do not know the salvation Jesus gives?  Paul wished he could be cursed to Hell if it would mean the salvation of his fellow Jews who had rejected Jesus (Romans 9:3).  Jesus openly wept as he entered Jerusalem knowing the people had an opportunity to meet God in him and missed it (Luke 19:41).  How recently have you or I cared about the salvation of the lost people right in our town the way Paul and Jesus did? 
As a church, we have to decide a couple of things.  We have to decide, once and for all, will our church host same-sex weddings.  And we have to decide whether our church’s staff pastors can preside at same-sex weddings.  Whatever decision we make on these issues must be based on our reading of scripture.  Once the decisions are made, then we have to put our energy into sharing the message of Jesus’ salvation with the world around us.  That has to be what fills us with passion and emotion.  That has to be what drives us.
Clearly, within our membership, as among the Methodists, there are different readings of scripture as it relates to same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ-related matters.  We have to handle our differences with our goal in mind.  We want to lead people to Jesus.  And we have to be aware of the enemy’s strategy.  Satan wants us fighting about this issue instead doing the work of discipleship and evangelism.  Think about these things – God’s calling and Satan’s deceptions – when you feel your emotions arise over the side issue threatening to divide us.  A great opportunity stands before us.  As Jesus said, the fields are ready to be harvested (John 4:35), and like that woman at the well, the harvest is men and women who come to faith in Jesus. 

The American news media would have us believe this historical moment will be defined by sex scandals and a shift in sexual mores in our country.  That may be true from the perspective of world history.  Our greater concern, though, is salvation history.  If we can stay united and stay focused on God’s call, then this moment can be defined by how many people in Chapel Hill and Carrboro turn to Jesus.  Let’s join together in praying for that.  Let’s commit to uniting around the work God has for us and wants to do through us.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

“To Call Jesus ‘Lord’” (Luke 6:37-49)

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

            For my birthday, my wife and kids got me the Amazon “Echo Dot” for my office.  Now you can come in and say, “Alexa, play jazz,” and the machine will do exactly that.  In fact, the other day, I did that very thing.  But, then I needed her to turn it off, so I said, “Alexa, stop.”  And I said it kind of loudly.  Right at that moment, Alexis Carpenter was in the office making copies.  She asked, “What am I doing wrong?”  
            You have to be careful with “Alexa.”  For fun, I asked, “Alexa, what is your mission.”  
            She responded in her machine-like female voice, “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no A.I. has gone before.”  
            Do you recognize her play on the iconic Star Trek opening?  “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  Its continuing mission:  To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”  
            I love the playful convergence of ‘90’s pop-culture and today’s technology.  But, suppose I wasn’t asking Alexa her mission or James Tiberius Kirk the mission of the Enterprise.  Suppose I ask you, what is the mission of a disciple of Jesus Christ?  Would you say it is to call Jesus “Lord?”  That seems easy enough until we take into account what “Lord” means.  This one who loves us so much he died for our sins that we might be forgiven and have his righteousness cover us and that we might have eternal life - this one is to be the absolute, complete, final authority in our lives.  But he’s not an oppressive authority.  Rather he is the source of all love and mercy, and he wants a relationship with us. 
            To call Jesus Lord is to enter that relationship by way of confession and forgiveness and grateful reception of the new life He gives.  It is to live a life of prayer and devotion.  And it is to accept that Jesus lays out our life plan and whatever hopes or dreams we might have, we submit to Him.  
            Maybe you dream of professional soccer player.  You’re athletic.  You train really hard.  You might make it.  But however hard you work, however badly you want it, if you are a Christian, then Jesus is Lord even of your pursuit of your dream.  Go for it.  Go ahead.  But, every step of the way, stay connected to your Lord, your Master, through prayer, Bible-reading, worship, and involvement in church life.  And if there comes a moment where you have to choose between soccer or obeying your Lord, you follow Jesus.
It could be acting or writing.  Maybe your ambition is academic and you’ve made all A’s in the hardest classes.  Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all have to compete to see which one gets you.  But if your Master, Jesus, lays out another path, one that deviates from your academic dreams, you take that path.  If we choose academic success over obedience or the advancement of an athletic career over obedience or any career over obedience to the will of Jesus, then he is not our Lord no matter what we say.  That career or that achievement, or it could be a relationship or an addiction - anything we yield to instead of surrendering ourselves to Jesus - that is our lord regardless of what we say. 
            I remember reading an article about a Hall-of-Fame running back when he was still playing.  He listed his life goals.  Number 1 was to keep Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  After that came another dozen or so goals.  Win the rushing title.  Win the MVP award.  Make the playoffs.  Win the Super Bowl.  He did not have a single goal that stated how he would acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior and nothing in his life indicated Jesus has any authority over him.  It was just words.  A disciple’s mission is to go beyond words and serve Jesus with our lives.
            In Luke 6, we speak of the disciple’s mission because verse 20 says Jesus is speaking to his disciples.  A large crowd is present.  In verses 17-19 we learn two things.  First, thought Jesus clearly chose 12 for a special calling, many more followed him.  Luke describes it as a great crowd of his disciples.  However, for the 100’s that wanted to follow Jesus as disciples, many 100’s more wanted a piece of him.  They wanted healings or they wanted to witness miracles.  So the masses thronged to this open field to be with Jesus.  This portion of Luke, which is similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is sometimes referred to as the Sermon the Plain.  It was an oral culture.  You couldn’t go order podcasts of Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount.  I think what we find here in Luke is similar material but a different sermon.
            When he starts preaching, Jesus can see the crowds, but he focuses on his disciples.  That is who these words are for.  The crowd can listen in and in doing they might themselves want to become disciples.  We must, though, remember, these words are for people who have already committed to following Jesus. 
By the time we get to chapter 6 verse 46, can you hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice?  ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I tell you?’ The life he has laid out for them is extreme and the only way to abide by his words are with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We can’t cover it all in one Sunday sermon, so we zero on a few of his points beginning in verse 37. 
“Do not judge and you will not be judged.”  We have to name evil and be specific and truthful in calling a sin a sin.  But we cannot claim righteousness just because we endeavor to follow Jesus.  Every one of us falls short in our attempts to be wonderful disciples. Because we fall short, we should be humble and generous toward others both inside the church and outside.  Humble and generous. 
Jesus goes on to say we must forgive. Because we live, work, and play with people - people flawed like we are - both inside the church and outside, in the world, we’re going to be hurt.  And, we’re going to say and do things that hurt others, even when we don’t mean to.  Do not be judgmental.  Be gracious.  And forgive.
What else?  Verse 42, “How can you say, ‘Friend let me take the speck out of your eye when you do not see the log in your own eye?’”  In other words, how can someone constantly name the sins of others when his own sins are piling up?  Jesus makes no allowance for sin.  Sin is so serious and so deadly, he had to die on worst of torture devices to cover the penalty - the Roman cross.  We can, in love and humility, correct one another.  But, the love and humility have to be expressed and each one of us has to live in confession.
Confession has to be a regular part of our Christian lives.  Don’t make stuff up.  When you pray, don’t make a show of saying, “O Lord, I am such a miserable wretch,” and then ramble on about how despicable you are so everyone listening can see you being confessional and humble.  Don’t it that way.  Do it this way.  Carve out time to be alone, just you and God, a time of solitary prayer. Honestly review your life, your choices, your relationships.  Ask God to help you see your blind spots and your mistakes.  When we do this honestly, it is painful but also cathartic. 
Usually for me, it becomes clear that I have been heavy handed with someone in my family or someone I love.  I have had to confess rudeness and insensitivity.  I have had to confess laziness.  I have had to acknowledge my willful indifference to all the privileges I enjoy as a white, middle class, educated, married, heterosexual, employed American male.  None of those descriptors are bad things, but every one of them gives me advantages.  Many, I haven’t really earned.  At times, I have exploited those advantages for my own good without thinking about those who do not have these advantages.  I have to confess that to God and ask forgiveness. 
But don’t worry about my confession.  You make yours.  God has forgiven me and will forgive you.  
Jesus says, don’t judge; forgive; don’t try to correct others without first dealing with your own junk through confession and repentance.  What else?
He talks about the produce of our lives.  “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (6:45).  So, what is in your heart?  What is in my heart? More importantly, what shapes and influences our hearts, our desires, our affections?
Jesus looked into the crowd and saw that even those who wanted to follow him were prone to sin, tempted to turn to other influences, or likely to make other things more important in their lives than the way of God.  Sure, once I get my athletic career going, then I’ll work on my discipleship.  Once I assert my opinion about the hot issue of the day, once I have had my say, then I will trouble myself with obeying Jesus.  Once I make all money I think I will need to make me happy, then I will see about fitting discipleship into my life.
He could see it on their faces.  He can see it on ours.  Why call him Lord if we are just going to disregard God when we feel like doing so?  
To call him Lord, is to speak truth, because He is Lord of the universe.  It is also acknolwedgement that our only hope for life is to stay connected to Jesus in relationship.  It is all we have.   The call of a disciple, the people Jesus was talking to in this Sermon on the Plain was to obey Jesus.  We need help and God gives it. 
When we receive that help, and do our best to live the obedient, disciple life, we walk in joy, no matter our circumstances.  We find ourselves part of what God is doing in the world.  We live the mission he has given us and are welcomed by Him as He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter the joy of your Master.”