How do we feel about Bill Cosby?

bill_cosby_620x480_cemrfThe news is littered with stories about Bill Cosby.  The beloved actor who many of us grew up laughing at is now being accused of horrible acts of violence.  Multiple women have come forward with claims that he forced himself on them.  Only them and Cosby really know what happened.

This post is not to condemn or exonerate Bill Cosby.  More than that, it is me thinking out loud about the conflict in my heart about this whole situation.  Here are some bullet point observations about my feelings.

  • The general public has always thought Bill Cosby was a dad that we all wanted.  His most famous character, Mr. Huxtable, was funny, caring, strong, successful and the positive list goes on and on.  Bill’s comedy routines were always clean.  He made us LOL (before that was cool) without ever saying anything socially inappropriate.
  •  When an accusation comes out against someone held in such high regard, my immediate response: “No! there is no way.”  My thoughts are that Bill Cosby is the guy that we have always known and the guy we have always known would never do something like that.  Then, when almost ten different women from different areas and time frames come out with similar stories, my brain and heart get really confused.  Really? Could this actually be true?  Could he have been doing that and then representing something completely different in public?
  • If he didn’t commit these horrible acts, then why would all these women randomly say these things?  What benefit or motive do they have in coming out if it didn’t really happen.  Is it a conspiracy? Are they starving for attention and feel like they should jump on this bandwagon in order to get publicity?
  • If he did commit these horrible acts, then what does that say about him as a person?  Does that mean he is a bad person? Yes, if he did it, then he is a bad person.  How much bad do we have to do before we are ‘bad people’?  More importantly what does it mean for all the good things he did?  What about all the positive things he did for the world through his comedy and philanthropy?
  • How many good things would he have to do in order to pay for the immoral acts that he committed against these women? What would it take for the court of public opinion to accept him again?
  • In a month or sooner, the news media will determine that the public is tired of this story and move on to another story.  Everyone remember that airliner that disappeared earlier this year and it was on the news every hour for a couple weeks.  They still haven’t found that plane, but we NEVER hear anything about it.  WHEN this happens: What does this “moving on” do the victims?  Are they validated and vindicated by his public ridicule? What should they do with the pain of the past when America moves on and Bill Cosby is either trashed or exonerated?

Have you had these thoughts or others?

The Art of Forgiving

WYBMN_mainSermon notes from “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” | Week Five

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor (the loner, the talker, the grouch, the giver) as yourself.  (ESV)

The term “neighbor” that Jesus used here was not ambiguous.  It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those whom Jesus has put in your path.

Today, let’s talk about the Art of Loving Your Neighbor!

Luke 10:5 “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.  7 Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide….10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’

When we put this spiritual concept in the context of our neighborhood, it is the:

  1. The Art of Focusing

We can’t be BEST friends with everyone. You don’t have the time or energy to invest in everyone equally.  We don’t have the capacity for deep relationships with everyone.

Jesus was intentional about how he spent his time. Throughout the Gospels Jesus was repeatedly focused on small groups of people so he could invest in their lives in big ways.

How do you determine WHO to spend the most time with? Start with Meeting EVERYONE, Learn names, Become acquainted with some, Pray, Follow natural patterns of connections AND… Look for People of Peace.

A Person of Peace is someone hospitable and open to becoming a friend. Once the disciples found a person of peace, Jesus told his followers to stay with that person.  Don’t worry about wide impact. Focus on deep impact.

Notice, a person of peace didn’t mean: a Christian, or sinner, or agnostic, or certain race or creed.

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3 Important Parts of Loving Your Neighbor

WYBMN_mainHere are the sermon notes for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” | Week Three

Click here to listen to the podcast of this message.

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor (the loner, the talker, the grouch, the giver) as yourself.  (ESV)

The term “neighbor” that Jesus used here was not ambiguous.  It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those who Jesus has put in your path.

Knowing where to start is often the hardest step. Going from the theory of loving your neighbor to actually loving. Here is a simple framework to view your relationships:

Stranger   >   Acquaintance  >   Relationship

That looks so simple and basic. It is. I highly encourage you to start framing your connections with this categories. Simply seeing them in that light will get the ball rolling.

Here are some people that you might encounter in your hood!

Today, I want to show you the 3 basics of loving our neighbor…

1.  Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor.

Couple weeks back, I asked everyone to name the 8 people that live the closest to you. If you haven’t done that exercise, then now is the time. You can start right now, you can sit at the kitchen table and do it with your roommates.

This is crucial. It starts making you analyze the status of you and your neighbors.

Are they Strangers? Are they Acquaintances? Do we have a significant relationship?

“Hey, I’m Robin. I know that you have told me your name, but I’m not great with names and have forgotten it.”

“Hey, I’m Robin. We wave to each other all the time, but I actually don’t know your name. “

Then, remember it until you can get home and write it down on your paper!

Eliminate Strangers on your street.  Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor. Baby Steps!

2.  Loving Your Neighbor means hanging out with your neighbor

We have so many excuses: We don’t have time. We don’t like them. They are involved in some unholy things.

Jesus gives us the ultimate example of this. He calls Levi to be his disciple in Luke 5 and then Levi throws a party with all of his unsaved friends!

Luke 5: 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

 

We are called to help the sick get well. The problem is that we think we are only allowed to hang out with well people.

Jesus was confident in his role as Son of God. His identity was secure. The temptation to be like the tax collectors and the sinners would not be acted upon because Jesus was well grounded.

Levi was throwing the party. Levi is creating an environment where the people he knows well can interact with Jesus and his new friends.

Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders and has every opportunity to apologize for spending time with sinners. Yet, Jesus does the opposite. He defends his right to be there. He doesn’t back down.

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Are you Afraid to Love Your Neighbor?

WYBMN_mainWon’t You Be My Neighbor? | Week 2 Sermon Notes

Click here to listen to the podcast of this message.

 

Mr. Rogers was the nicest guy of all time. Seriously, Has there been anyone any nicer? He got on television and loved on people of all races, abilities, and backgrounds.

Everyone was equal in his neighborhood.

He would always ask, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
What does it mean to be a neighbor?
Who is your neighbor?

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  (ESV)

After hearing this thought, a man in Luke 10 asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

The scripture says that he was trying to justify himself.

Luke 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (ESV)

The term that Jesus used here was not an ambiguous or hype spiritual word. It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those who Jesus has put in your path.

Today, we will deal with the FEAR FACTOR of loving our neighbor…

Most people don’t like unexpected knocks at the door. Why? Unwanted solicitation. Unwanted sales calls. Unwanted evangelism knocks.  Therefore, when we go to meet our neighbors, there is a negative prejudice before we even knock on the door.

Being nice or giving something for free can seem like a scam.

It’s easy to be suspicious of people we do not know because of the news. They might have ebola.

If we are going to love our neighbors, we must have the courage to wrestle with our fear.

Ask God to lead as you engage your neighborhood!

This clip from The Burbs completely drives this point home. Check it out! (not sure what kind of commercial will show before the clip)

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor | Week1 Sermon Notes

WYBMN_main

You can listen to this sermon podcast here.

Mr. Rogers was the nicest guy of all time. Seriously, Has there been anyone any nicer? Everything that I have heard about his real life and mirrored his character on TV. Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, but we don’t know about his love for people because of sermons he preached from a pulpit. He said he was inspired to get into television because when he viewed children’s television all he saw was anger. He was displeased with the way television connected with kids.

So, he got on television and loved on people of all races, abilities, and backgrounds.  Everyone was equal in his neighborhood. He would always ask, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

What does it mean to be a neighbor? Who is your neighbor?

Mr Rogers always brought a bag with a special item in it.  I brought a mirror today. The mirror reflects who you are. We use it so that we can determine what our present condition is and we can make changes to improve. Scripture is often used in the same way. We look at ourselves in the mirror of scripture.

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  (ESV)

After hearing this thought, a man in Luke 10 asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  The scripture says that he was trying to justify himself.

Luke 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (ESV)

He was trying to find a loophole.  Maybe we can be neighborly to only those we like or those we choose or those we agree with or those who like us first.

Jesus goes on to teach them who their neighbor is. He tells them the story of the “good Samaritan”. The whole point of the story is that your neighbor is the one that you don’t pick.

We often want to overgeneralize or even over spiritualize the term neighbor. Instead of it being those living nearest to us, we turn it into a term that is so general it is meaningless. When we insist that we are neighbors with everybody, often we end up being neighbors with nobody.

OR We end up “choosing” our neighbors that are not a hassle or ones that we can control or limit our amount of interaction. The people that live by us, yeah, they are our “neighbors” but they aren’t our neighbors. I mean God was talking about someone else.

The truth is that we don’t have to overanalyze the term neighbor. We don’t have to dig deep into the root Greek word to find secret meaning to the word neighbor.

But, I did and here is what the original Greek word: Pleysion means: “a person who lives close beside others”. The one near/close proximity. It simply means the people that live next to you. The people that God puts in your path.

Mr Rogers got it right in his song when the line said, “Since we’re together we might as well say”

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