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    Can You Believe This?

Ken Keller


My talk this morning is actually my second attempt to make a statement about the sacredness of our Faith, and our individual responsibilities as we live it.  That first attempt happened in Artesia, New Mexico around 1977 or ‘78.  So based on that rate it should be awhile before my turn comes up again.

The point of that talk came from the title of it which was a rhetorical question “Can you believe this?”

I must have asked it 20 times, and each time I tried to state it with a certain amount of indecisiveness to create a pondering, “Can ya believe this?”  At the end, that rhetorical question became a resounding, positive, concluding statement of,  “THIS! You CAN  Believe!”  It seemed to work at the time.

Now today, as you listen intently and with an open mind, I absolutely don’t want you to think to yourself, much less lean over to your neighbor and ask, “Can you believe this?”  Don’t do that to me or yourselves because today you will leave the sanctuary saying, “You know, I believe that.  I believe that God inspired  Ken to say those words to me today.”  For myself and some of you, to some degree, we are going to face the rest of our tomorrows walking with a new boldness. We will pledge again our lives and actions (thoughts, words, and deeds) to God and do what he called us to do.

Most all of us are trying to do this already.  But, we slip, don’t we?  I don’t believe we are bad people, but we let our guard down for an instant, some bad things happen, and we might be subject to thoughts of being hurt emotionally or physically.  We might become angry or  even find a need to retaliate.  Don’t do it.  It only causes more grief and heartache.  Be blessed, stand in the light, and God and you will get you through it.  Just ask Him for guidance and help.

                          (“Give me Jesus Give me Jesus” sung by the choir.)                                                              

What a wonderful anthem, choir.  Thank you so very much.  You know how very glad I am to be a part of the singing each Sunday.    I am really glad to be here in the pulpit this morning and truly hope that no one leaves in the next 20 minutes or so.  I am happy to have been asked to bring this message this morning.  I want to have a brief talk with you about the most polarizing, disruptive figure in all of history,  Jesus Christ.  I do believe that God planned it that way.  He wants all his children to love and adore Him and Him alone.  He knew us in the beginning, and he knows us now.  He knew us to be non-perfect beings, corrupt even; if we don’t have a changed heart, we’ll always slip and mess-up. He knows how we are.  He knows we will do wrong, sometimes intentionally. Some completely rejected Him in the ancient days and some deny him now.  Sometimes mankind isn’t so kind.  For me that is the great dichotomy of our existence.  God is so loving that he gave us this free-will.  God wants us to choose him freely, but some just don’t.  Tragic, huh? 

It is prophesized that Jesus is coming again in the great Rapture, where he will take the faithful followers in a cloud of believers to join the Dead in Christ already in Heaven. 

God wants us ready for that, right minded, moment to moment.  He wants us ever watchful.  We, as mere mortals, don’t know the hour or the day of Christ’s return.  He could just pluck us out of our evil earthly ways at any time, but He hasn’t yet, has He?...at least not in the Grand Scheme of things.  I believe I’m seeing events that might signal the rapture.  Folks, when He comes for us, it will be in the twinkling of an eye.  We won’t have time to pack a bag or go pay the water bill.  If we are in one of our brief fits of anger with or without reprisal planned, intentionally or not; we may not make it.  We should never be in that frame of mind.  Hatred should never be part of our countenance against any man.  Love just love.  Our God has been a loving God for eons, forever.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.  He is the great I Am.  He is and always will be.  One day He will be the vengeful God, full of wrath and fury he promises for those left behind.  And yet He offers us full pardon, right now.  If we would just accept Jesus, his Son, as our Lord and Savior.  He wants us to accept the greatest gift he has: Eternal Life with Him in Heaven Forever.  Mankind chooses and lives with that choice, UP or down for eternity.

We as a faith filled, Christ-centered congregation in the modern world should have an easier time remembering these promised events, but do we?  Think about the tremendous amount of discord and turmoil in the world today with the dissolving societies and their ideological principles being shattered by greed and corruption.  Be part of that and get left behind.  The assurance of the Rapture of Jesus is as true today as it has ever been.  Think on this: there are more religious groups today than ever before.  Some are very similar to our basic beliefs, but we do have major differences of opinion as to a few details here and there.  For the most part though, the protestant churches are very close in most basic doctrinal regards.

Globally, other spiritual movements claim to be major religious forces in the world, but they staunchly and openly reject Christ and the Holy Spirit and have a different name for God himself.  It’s troubling that all Humanity claims to be right, both the Godly and those who openly believe in nothing or claim a lessor supreme deity.  More importantly, it is very presumptive of anyone who tries to be authentic and accurate by claiming their denomination or sect is the one and only true church. 

Regardless of what we (mankind) calls HIM, our creator, we have a problem!

If we don’t allow each other to believe a little differently, then I think we are trying to be greater than God Himself.  “How can that be?” you ask---by taking away each other’s free will.  Doesn’t that take away all free will?  Now I don’t want that on me on my judgement day, do you?

And do you know what this is?  An impossible situation, at least for us mortals.


God, Himself, will work this one out. Hopeless? Not at all.  So should we quit trying and just let God  handle it?  No, we’re still his church, and we need to do all we can.  For now, I believe we (there’s that word again) as United Methodists have as much, if not more, to offer anyone looking for a church home.  We can only believe what we believe and search for others who might come to share our faith and believe likewise.  By inviting any and all who come seeking a place to hang their hearts, we can only ask them to join us for fellowship and Sunday worship.

You know more than I that even among those that profess Jesus and all his Glory, don’t see eye to eye.  Some seem to relish the differences.  They seem to enjoy arguing about the details of the differences in dogma, of their interpretations in their Bible.  To me it just doesn’t matter.  That world view is not important to my individual salvation.  That’s between God and me.  All the rest of the global discussion is up to His determination too, but that’s between them and HIM.  I believe He’s up to the challenge.


Almost 40 years ago, when I was working in my first nursing facility, late one night, a family member asked if I had a few minutes.  He knew I was Methodist, for sure after I told him.  I’m not sure if he knew it before or not.  The gist of the conversation for him was that he wanted me to attend his church to worship.  I thought he just wanted to talk about the Lord.  The conversation pretty much ended when he said that His God was stronger than mine.  He abruptly left when I told him there was only one, but perhaps we worshipped in a little different way.  He wasn’t buying that.  What I would have liked to have been able to tell him was that I believe it is okay to have different churches because I believe we are all going to get to Heaven if we love the Lord and accept Christ as God intended.

As for me, I believe in Christ and Him crucified for me, dead and buried.  I believe he was resurrected from the grave and was ascended into Heaven.  I believe He sits at the right hand of God, the Father.  I believe Jesus was sent back to earth as a comforter and continual presence with us.  This is the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity of God’s being---God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

But lets look again at Jesus.  The Lord is our shepherd.  We are his sheep.  We stray and get caught in the snares and brambles of our lives.  The Lord gets us out of such messes and keeps us on the straight and narrow path.  Jesus holds us in the palm of his hand.  He has saved us from ourselves, countless times, many of those we are not even aware.

I know many, if not all of you, are with me in this thinking, and all confess their sins before Christ and seek His blessed redemption.  I believe we receive it daily.  God does this for all of us who believe.

Give me Jesus!   Give! Us! Jesus!.   He has called me and you.  He does so every day.  I am convinced  he keeps calling because we keep failing Him in so many ways.  Some of you may feel likewise.  Think about it and I think you will agree.


Speaking of calls, some of you are aware of a simply marvelous devotional named “Jesus Calling.”  It was written by Sarah Young, a former missionary.  If you are not aware of it, you should get a copy.  You will find it fascinating.  It is written in the first person, and it sounds like Jesus is talking directly to you from the  right hand of God, the Father.  As you read it…it is Jesus calling you.  With a little speaker’s priveledge, I would like to read today’s call and have you hear how very appropriate it is to this entire message.  First the scripture verses:  I John 1: 5-7:  “5. This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6. So if we say we are his friends, but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. 7. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from every sin.”

Exodus 33:14: “And the Lord replied, I will myself go with you and give you success.”

Phillipians 4:8-9:  “8. And now brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.  Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.  9.  Keep putting into practice all you learn from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.”

                                       (Read Jesus Calling  for 10-19-14.)                                                       

WOW, just wow.  When I first read this, I was stung just a little bit by what it said, but then I came to realize that I was like that at times.  And I have certainly felt it other places, some being in churches.  If we as a congregation are honest with ourselves and we have to be with God because we have nothing to hide and nothing to disclose to Him, then maybe we have some work to do in this regard.


Have you ever felt the falsehood of others?  Folks you work with or meet in the store?  You can almost expect some of that from the public, given the state of human existence in today’s world.  But folks, this is our church, and also God’s Holy sanctuary; this is no place to put on airs or hide behind a façade.  Let’s be who we are and remove our falsehoods from each other, work together for the glory of God, and be about the work he has set us upon to do which is to build HIS kingdom.  May it come to be that we focus completely on the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and be about God’s business.

I have often wondered how the various groups of peoples from different cultures and of different ages past have celebrated the sort of spiritual event we call Easter and whatever they might have called it in their situation and how it might have been similar or different.  The short answer is, comparatively speaking, most cultures have a concept of a supreme being, an afterlife, and a means of transition.  Of course due to time restraints, we will have to postpone that for awhile.  We move ahead to a concluding certainty for us as United Methodist.  The scripture is Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection.”


I am reading a book entitle Experiencing the Resurrection by Henry and Melvin Blackaby, a father and son, both ministers.  Some of the following comments are paraphrases of that work:  As you know there is great power in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Enough so as to set us completely free of the bondage with which our sin holds us.  And also enough so as to fill our lives with the fullness of God.  To understand that fullness takes a lifetime of study and contemplation of God’s word.  I have not done that, and only lately realized the error of my ways.  I’m praying that I become a better Christian.

The life of Christ has had many facets of accomplishment: the way He lived, misunderstood by so many folks and persecuted, but still He seemed to be always blessing folks with His miracles, the teaching and preaching He did; all led many to believe in Him and accept Him and His way of life.  God’s plan though led Jesus to ridicule and persecution which culminated in his trial, conviction, and the cross. His torture on the way to the cross and His tremendous suffering and pain on the cross led to his death which led to the tomb.  But these events, in reality, were only the beginning!

God, the Father, according to his plan, resurrected his son and gave us our Savior and, in essence, the opportunity for everlasting life.  Forever.  Can we even imagine how long forever is?  The resurrection is the culmination of the work started in Eden, continued in Bethlehem, carried through the cross and tomb.  It is the central theme of the lives Christians lead.   If there is no resurrection, then the cross is meaningless. The resurrection validates the cross; without the resurrection Sin wins.  Paul made it clear in 1st Corinthians 15:17-19—“If Christ is not risen your faith is futile, you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this  life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

Did you hear that? There is no hope?  Does that mean things are hopeless?  Absolutely not  “There’s no hope” means we have assurance. Ahhh, Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.  In Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  There was hope before Christ gave us a faith, our faith.  Through faith, we accepted HIM. Now we have assurance, Blessed Assurance.  Jesus is mine and yours in Heaven, forever.  The resurrection is the proof of Christ’s victory.  Hope is validated.  It’s just not needed any longer.  The resurrection is more than a doctrine to be pondered: it is an invitation from God himself to experience the living Christ in our lives.  We will live forever with him because He lived, suffered, died, rose again at the will of the Father.  The resurrection is more than an event  that happened in the First Century.  God has given us the opportunity to gain knowledge of the resurrection and experience it in our daily walk.  By living in the risen Lord, we are promised of and raised to a new life in Him.  Our knowledge in knowing Him becomes EXPERIENTIAL, and it touches every part of our lives.  Christian, strive to do more. 

Be an above–average Christian!  Let the incredible resurrection power shine through you as you walk with the Risen Christ.

As a footnote, I learned a new word as I was preparing this talk, “experential”, which is relating to, derived from, or providing experience.  To quote John Wesley, “…genuine believers hunger for experiential righteousness, and continue to acknowledge poverty of spirit, recognizing constantly that their acceptance with God depends always and only on Christ’s sacrifice.”

I would like to close on a personal note:  I have, in the past, written a poem to my beloved wife, Elvira.  It was about Us. Over the last years I have come to realize how very much we depend on Jesus in our lives.  Obviously He is always there for us.  I told her I wanted to rewrite it to include Him.  She said okay, but just make it about Him.  So I did that.  And I’m going to read it to you, but first, I have to say it is about Him.  Isn’t that what God wants it to be? Our lives aren’t really ours, are they? They’re His.  Isn’t that what the call said this morning, “…smile at each other with His joy; Love each other with His love.   We have His Joy and His Love…Let’s give it away!”

One last thing:  I don’t believe there’s any darkness in Heaven…only sunrise, daytime, sunset; twilite in your will.  And then just before dark, dawn breaks again on the horizon, and God reigns in his eternity and ours.

The gentle rush of twilight’s final breeze sweeps over me.

I ponder the day’s events and think of the man on earth I used to be.

What was once so vital to the very being of my existence,

Seems now to have vanished and with not much resistance.

Time has vanished, and sweet Jesus and you are the essence of spontaneity.

For in my acceptance you have given me your eternal love, my gaiety.

I wanted so very much in my earth-bound past, now it seems,

Those desires are gone, no more than idyllic, human dreams.

I am whole with you and hope eternally that you are free

Of any doubts of my devotion and know how much I cherish thee.

The tightness in my throat and moisture around my eyes

Capture this moment’s beauty in paradise, forever, I’ll realize.

Yes, I feel twilight turning to dawn’s gentle morning breeze.

God’s unconditional love is floating on air just beyond those trees.

And you, Dear Jesus, are here with me.  It’s how Our Father meant it to be.

My self is not alone, no, nor I or even me.  It’s what was wanted most, we.