Thursday, September 21, 2017
Loves Me Like A Rock (Philippians 4:4-9)

First United Methodist Church

Glen Rose, Texas

May 12, 2013


Series: Rock and Roll Christians

 “Loves Me Like A Rock”

(Philippians 4:4-9)

Rev. Billy D Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     Originally I was going to put together a video which included the title of the song which was the inspiration for this sermon, Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock” but then I ran across that powerful video and felt like I needed to go a different direction.

     Motherhood is serious business. Parenting is serious business. It’s Kingdom business; it’s Jesus work; it’s a vocation of transformation. It’s about raising responsible young men and women of faith to continue to transform lives and affect change in the world through the love of God in Christ.

     The way God envisioned parenthood involved two; a mother and a father. Unfortunately that’s not how all families look. Today we have every possible configuration you can think of when we start talking about family and parenting. In my opinion the configuration doesn’t matter but what does matter is how parents go about parenting and how those parents grow disciples in their own homes.

PRAYER

Philippians 4:4-9 (NRSV)

[4] Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

[5] Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

[6] Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

[7] And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

[8] Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

[9] Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

     These words from Paul to the Church in Philippi could be the words of any Mother or Father to their own children; advice on how to live a faithful and meaningful life.        These are words that can help any parent or grandparent live in a Mighty way.

I. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK:

     A. Today’s Mother’s Day and we’re glad you chose to come and share it with us. In one of my first churches, there was one of the faithful saints, a women who never missed worship or Sunday School unless she was sick or out of town, except for Mother’s Day. She purposely stayed home on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t because of bad memories or mistreatment or anything to do with her own mother and their relationship. It didn’t have anything to do with the other mothers in the church.

     This women skipped church and Sunday School on Mother’s Day because she didn’t want to be recognized as the oldest mother in the congregation.

     Today IS Mother’s Day but this week in my studies I discovered that It’s Not What You Think.

     We know this day was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1914 under Woodrow Wilson. But that wasn’t its origin. Most of us recognize the name Julia Ward Howe, she wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the Civil War. She is credited with creating Mother’s Day in 1870.

     But that Mother’s Day Proclamation had nothing to do with flowers and chocolate and taking Mom out to eat or going to church as a family. Julia Ward Howe was reacting to the devastating effects of the Civil War on the home, the family and the nation. It was a cry for Mothers around the world to rise up for the efforts of peace. After experiencing first hand, the horrors of war, she came to realize that the two most important things are peace and equality. Her original concept was for a Mother’s Day for Peace. I want to share that proclamation with you.

Arise then…women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,

For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with

Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor,

Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil

At the summons of war,

Let women now leave all that may be left of home

For a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means

Whereby the great human family can live in peace…

Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,

But of God -

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,

May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

And the earliest period consistent with its objects,

To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.” (1)

     When Julia Ward Howe envisioned Mother’s Day she saw it as a day when women would rise up and lead all humanity in giving birth to a season of peace. So, that’s why I say It’s Not What You Think.

II. IT IS WHAT YOU THINK:

     A. But at the same time, in Philippians Paul says It IS What You Think. In Phil 4:8 Paul writes: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

     Paul wasn’t just giving good advice. Paul knew that our minds and hearts are like sponges which soak up what we think about; what we see, what we hear, what we read. It’s like the old computer programmer’s acronym: GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. What we take in affects how we live; how we treat others; how we think about others and ourselves.

     Our spirits, our hearts, our souls, our minds become like a cup of tea. As the teabag of whatever we are experiencing goes into our cup, it infuses our hearts, souls, minds and spirits just like tea leaves infuse the water to create a cup of refreshing tea. So, if we feed ourselves junk and fill our minds and spirits with garbage or negative thoughts, guess what? GIGO, right? That’s why Paul wrote what he wrote.

     B. We all need to remember that, especially parents. Because what we do and what we say has a profound impression upon our children.

     So, fill your head and heart with worthwhile stuff. Read and study Scripture so you have it readily at hand when times of struggle come, and they will. Let those words infuse your soul with the voice and the presence of God in Christ. Read uplifting and inspirational books so that you can be inspirational for your children and the world around you.

     Read and think about and excellence and let it uplift your spirit so you can lift the spirit of your children when they need it. And they will.

     Focus on what is true and just and pure so you can be the model you need to be for your children, your grandchildren and for those around you.

     Our job as parents, when we have children at home is to be parents. There will be plenty of time to be your son or daughters friend when they finally grow up. But when they’re little, they need parents. They NEED a Mom or a Dad who can help them focus and think about the positive things of life.

     Our children NEED us. WATCH

     I think Paul was right, It IS What You Think, so “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

     This is the empowerment we need as parents, as Fathers, as Mothers.

CONCLUSION:

     Leanne Ciampa Hadley on the Ministry Matters website wrote: “My children will not go to bed unless their night-light is on. It doesn't put out much light, but in my children's eyes, that night-light makes a very dark, frightening room a cozy, safe place to sleep. That night-light has changed the way I see my role as a Christian.

     I used to hear Christ's words about "letting my light shine" and feel really overwhelmed, thinking I would have to be a really outstanding Christian to even be seen in this dark world of ours. But now I realize that although I may not be the best Christian in the world, my light may be all someone needs to feel safe and cozy in this scary, dark world. So, I'll keep on shining! (2)

     And that’s really all we’re called to do, to keep on shining and letting the light of Christ shine through us. While the origin of Mother’s Day Is Not What You Think, it does remind us that It IS What You Think, that determines who we are and how we live. So, fill you own mind and heart and soul with Christ first, and then be the facilitator of filling your children’s minds, hearts and souls. Be the Parent, the Father, the Mother God created you to be. Let your light shine so the light of Christ might shine through you, and bring comfort and hope to others.

     It’s Not What You Think but It IS What You Think that makes a difference. Make a difference in this Jesus work, this Kingdom business of being a parent.

     So, “get down on your knees and hug your children. Love them like a rock and rock them like the rock of ages” as Paul Simon says. It will make a difference. Love them like a rock because that’s how God loves you.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

________________________________

Bibliography

1.   http://ministryamongthepoor.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/behold-thy-mother/

2.   http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/3800/devotions-for-mothers

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