2014-10-19 Sermon Simpson UMC “Religion and Violence: Does Religion Promote Violence?” Tezenlo Thong

“Religion and Violence:

Does Religion Promote Violence?”

(Micah 4:1-4)

Is religion inherently bad? Does it promote violence? Does it foster hate, fear and conflict? Or does religion make human beings better people? Are human beings better off because of it? Or is religion neither inherently good nor bad?

On one hand, we don’t have to look far to find atrocious examples of violence done in the name of religion. On the other hand, some of the greatest historical figures who have exhibited strong moral leadership are people with deep religious convictions, such as Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Thích Nhất Hạnh and others.

No religion is immune from violence. All are guilty of perpetrating hatred and division. Religion, including Christianity, can be and has been used as an excuse for violence. However, we must never condone, much less perpetrate, violence in the name of religion or God. On the contrary, we ought to be a people of peace, love and goodwill and treat people of all faiths with respect, love and dignity they deserve.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

(Micah 4:1–4 CEB)

But in the days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of the mountains; it will be lifted above the hills; peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say: “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God, so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in God’s paths!” Instruction will come from Zion and the LORD’s word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations and settle disputes of mighty nations, which are far away. They will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. All will sit underneath their own grapevines, under their own fig trees. There will be no one to terrify them; for the mouth of the LORD of heavenly forces has spoken.

 

Messages received from Sermon “Lost in Transition” Tezenlo Thong

“Lost in Transition”

 Messages received from Sermon by Tezenlo Thong

  • We often seek tangible or visible proof to support of our faith.
  • We are actually undergoing transition from the first day of our lives and our transitions are right before us, we are not lost, we are uncertain.
  • Dealing with transition is dealing with:
    • confusion
    • loss
    • anger
    • uncertainty
  • Our strength in transitions is within ourselves as God is with us every step.
  • Through God’s grace we have right before us and within us the strength to deal with transitions with:
    • clarity and simplicity
    • acceptance
    • happiness
    • confidence

2014-10-12 Sermon Simpson UMC “Lost in Transition” Tezenlo Thong

“Lost in Transition”

Exodus 32:1-14

The journey of Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land was a dramatic period of transition from slavery to freedom. It was also a period of transition from certainty to uncertainty.

Where are we going to get water? Where are we going to get our daily bread?

This was also a period of transition in their faith too: from the worship of Yahweh to a worship of a golden calf. The God who led them out of Egypt was not visible or tangible. On the other hand, the gods of the Canaanites were visible, right there in front of your eyes.

Life is a series of transition from one thing to another, and often times we feel lost when we transition from happiness to sadness. There is anxiety when we transition from fulfillment to loss, from celebration to grief. Fear can overcome us when we transition from abundance to scarcity, from success to failure, or from life to death: what am I going to do? How am I going to live?

When we experience loss or a sense of loss in the transition of life, we are tempted to seek security and certainty in a golden calf, a “god” that is tangible. However, we need to be careful not to latch onto a false security that will disappear within no time only to leave us with a sense of emptiness. Aristotle referred to “God” as the “Unmoved Mover” the primary “mover” or force of all the motion in the universe. What would it be like for the mortals to hold on to the Unmoved Mover and find security?

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

Exodus 32:1-14
32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

32:2 Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

32:3 So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron.

32:4 He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

32:5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the LORD.”

32:6 They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

32:7 The LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely;

32:8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'”

32:9 The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are.

32:10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”

32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.

32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

32:14 And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Messages received from Sermon “Death Has No Victory” by Ann Henderson

 

We were blessed to receive Ann Henderson’s first sermon at Simpson UMC.

Death Has No Victory

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Some of the messages received by the congregation are:

  • Be humble in your suffering.
  • Small quiet deeds.
  • Its the small humble deeds we express and we accomplish that will give us victory over death.
  • Peace.
  • Live for Christ and death will have no victory.
  • We have eternal life to look forward to.
  • Live life to the fullest and humbly.
  • Be humble and consider what is really important in life.
  • Consider what impact you have on other people in your deeds and words.

A personal note to Ann Henderson:  One person in a group of people brought up his anticipation of hearing you speak again and the group agreed that your next message is welcome,  your message today was very thoughtful and meditative and uplifting.  Good job we received much from your message.

2014-10-3 Sermon Simpson UMC “Death Has No Victory”

Death Has No Victory

Paul challenges us to look inwardly at all of the great achievements we have created in our lives and count them as nothing in comparison to the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If we live our lives in a way that is honoring to God, by the time we are to die, death will have no victory.

Ann Henderson, Pastoral Assistant, Simpson UMC

From the Bible passage Philippians 3:4b-14

“I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[a] the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ[b] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;[c] but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved,[d] I do not consider that I have made it my own;[e] but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly[f] call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

Messages received from sermon “God at Work in You”by Tezenlo Thong

Here are some of the comments received from the congregation describing the message received from the sermon “God at Work in You” :

  • Service of God without judgment.
  • Leaders are ministers too.
  • God gives us energy so we may extend kindness, forgiveness, grace, love and humility.
  • We the congregation are the church.
  • God is our bond to each other.
  • Christian love sometimes requires sacrifice.
  • Serve each other with a humble spirit.
  • We all have the desire to do what is good and God gives us the will, power, courage and energy to do what is good!

Special note to Tezenlo, our thoughts and prayers are with you and Eun Jung and your family during this time of loss.

 

2014-09-28 Sermon at Simpson UMC “God At Work In You”

“God At Work In You”  (Philippians 2:1-13)

What are signs of God at work in you?

How do we know that God is at work, enabling us both to will and to work for good?

The past few Sundays, we have been talking about reconciliation, forgiveness and acting graciously toward one another. These are signs of God at work in you. Whenever we experience an act of reconciliation or forgiveness among God’s people, we know that God is at work among us.

How often do we feel a desire to reconcile with a family member, a friend or coworker? How frequently do we feel the urge to forgive and ask for forgiveness? In all these circumstances, how often do we feel a lack of power or energy to act?

It is not always enough to will something. Good intentions are not always carried out.

Paul sees believers as their will energized by God and then also having the power to work supplied by God. God furnishes the enablement to carry out both the desire to will what is good and the energy to do it.

God is the one working in you, both the willing and the working.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

sumc

2014-09-21 Sermon at Simpson UMC “Grace Is Not Fair”

“Grace Is Not Fair”

Matthew 20:1-16

Today’s passage will make you want to shake your head and say, “That’s not fair.” It is because grace is not fair. God’s grace is indeed not fair. Grace means unmerited favor. It means extending favor to someone who doesn’t deserve it, who hasn’t earned it, and can never repay it.

The scandal of the parable is that God doesn’t give us what we deserve. God gives us what we need, whether we deserve it or not. The point of the parable is that God’s grace is amazing. That God’s grace is beyond our comprehension. That it encompasses everyone, welcomes everyone, forgives everyone, and loves everyone.

The second part of the parable is about us. If you observed the parable carefully, it was not the landowner who distributed the silver coins. He asked the foreman/worker to give the silver coins. The owner of the vineyard has selected you to dispense the silver coins. That’s what the parable is about. God wants you to dispense grace on God’s behalf. As God representatives, we are asked to show God’s grace to others. God calls us to enlarge the margin of grace in our lives. If our grace margin is small, we become exclusionary, judgmental and self-righteous. We become rigid, legalistic and impatient with others. But if or when our margin of grace is wide and big, we overlook each other’s mistakes. We begin to see our own weakness in other people’s failures. We don’t take things too seriously. Enlarge your margin of grace to accommodate people who don’t think or believe like you, people who are different from you. That’s the reason why we are show grace by God. Freely receive, freely give!

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor Simpson UMC