Story Teller

Our back-to-school worship series at Northside Church is entitled Story Teller. During August and September, we are exploring eight parables told by Jesus in Luke’s Gospel.

ParablesParable comes from the Greek word parabole which means to cast alongside or to place beside. Parables are stories that include comparisons, contrasts, exaggerations, illustrations, analogies, similes, and metaphors.

One classic definition declares: A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus’ parables give human insight into God’s kingdom.These ordinary stories reveal extraordinary truths.

The Gospel parables are also insidious. They seem plain enough. After listening Jesus’ words, the listener concludes: “Oh, well, the moral of the story is                        .”

Yet it’s not that simple. Parables are multilayered and multidimensional. There are always new depths to plumb. They cast fishhooks into our minds, tugging at our thoughts and catching our imaginations. We wake up in the middle of the night, exclaiming: “OH, THAT’S what Jesus meant!”

However, there is a richness to Christ’s parables that cannot be plumbed. We read the same story years later and discover new and unexpected truths.

Parables are also dangerous. They slip past our defenses and through the backdoor of our minds, inviting us to change and challenging us to act.

So we’re invited on Sundays to sit at the feet of the Master Storyteller and ask: “Jesus, will you tell us a story?”

Three Simple Rules: By Attending upon All the Ordinances of God

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, crafted three simple guides for Christian living. In Methodism, they became known as The General Rules.

The Third Rule states: “By Attending upon All the Ordinances of God.” Wesley understood the ordinances of God to be spiritual disciplines that all disciples should keep—practices that keep the relationship between God and humans vital, alive, and growing.

These “means of grace” enable us to grow in the Christian faith. Wesley mentioned six ordinances specifically, including:

  • The public worship of God.
  • The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded.
  • The Supper of the Lord.
  • Family and private prayer.
  • Searching the Scriptures.
  • Fasting or abstinence.

The six ordinances listed by Wesley are NOT exhaustive; however, these spiritual practices are vital to our spiritual health.

Stay in love with God

In his book entitled Three Simple Rules, Bishop Reuben Job offered a contemporary paraphrase of the Third Rule: “Stay in love with God.” These means of grace enable us to nurture a lifelong relationship with the one who loves us first and loves us best.

Attend upon all the ordinances of God so that your love of the Lord survives and thrives.

Three Simple Rules: Do Good

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, crafted three simple guides for Christian living. In Methodism, they became known as The General Rules.

The second rule simply states: “Do good.”Do Good

A two-word directive seems easy enough, but how much is ENOUGH? I mean, this doing good thing could quickly get out of hand! I’m willing to do my part, but I want to know exactly what my part should be.

The good news is that Jesus DID define how much we had to do. The Lord said: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” My guess is none of us is done yet!

John Wesley defined the scope of the Second General Rule in this way:

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

ALL, y’all—that’s a lot of good! So we need to get our “cans” to work!

Next week we consider the Third Simple Rule: “Attend upon all the ordinances of God.”

Three Simple Rules: Do No Harm

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, crafted three simple guides for Christian living. In Methodism, they became known as The General Rules.

Blank Chalkboard-horizontalThe first rule simply states: “Do no harm.” This is the Christian ethic in the negative—we are told what NOT to do. The Silver Rule states: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.”

In the Hippocratic Oath, doctors swear to practice this principle: “First, do no harm.” Sometimes doing nothing is a creative act—or at least not a destructive one.

Centuries later a Methodist evangelist named Sam Jones paraphrased Wesley’s First Rule to simple say: “Quit your meanness!”

How would our lives change if we followed this simple rule? What would it look like to “do no harm” and “quit our meanness?”

So here’s your homework. This week make the First Rule your mantra. Repeat it time and again to yourself. Find ways to do no harm to yourself and others around you.

Next week we consider Wesley’s second rule: “Do good.”