Summer Worship: Don’t miss the possibility!

Christ meets us in the summertime too. Don’t miss an opportunity for growth in faith. Cheatham Memorial has a summer focus on teaching the equipping-skills that make our discipleship and disciple-making fun, fruitful and frankly, possible! Over the summer we will talk about concrete tools like public and private prayer, and study, small group leading. Watch for posts with “Take Aways” from this sermons

June 3,2018. 1 Samuel 3:1-20 “Equip for youth” The Skill of listening The life of faith is the key to a young soul. Our bodies age but we can keep a youthful and excited spirit by being equipped for and equipping others for healthy eternal living in the here and now! What does equipping mean anyway ?

June 10, 2018. Mark. 3:20–35 “Forgiveness is standard equipment”. The Skill of ForgivenessWe are born to forgive and lose this skill along the way somehow. When we forgive we are freed, even if others think we are crazy for doing so. How do you forgive that one who doesn’t deserve it?

June 17, 2018. 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. “I See…”.The Skill of DiscernmentDad’s only know where to go when they walk by faith. Many don’t and bear the bitter fruit of walking alone. This applies to all disciples. Discernment is a skill learned through prayer and applied in every day ways. The voice of the Spirit is often dismissed. How do you listen for God’s direction. Prayer is an essential skill.

June 24, 2018 Mark 4:35-41. “Life-Speak” The Skill of Planning for AdversityAdversity is real and essential to our witness. How do we speak of our “storms” as victory and not failure. Holding a spiritual conversation in our own words is an essential skill. How do we speak life?

July 1, 2018 Acts 20:8-17 “Pay Attention” The skill of Sacramental LivingThe sacraments are a gift to the church and a pattern for living for each disciple. How can your life be a means of grace EVERYDAY?

July 8, 2018 Mark 6:1-13 “ A Mutual Education” The skill of TeachingNo one out learns a true teacher. The gift of teaching is not upon everyone BUT the ability to teach is a skill that can be learned. We all teach others the things we know. How will we share the gospel honestly and personally.

July 15, 2018 Guest Pastor: Rev. Mike Toland!

July 22, 2018 Music and Worship with ”Tin Top Road”July 29, 2018

2 Samuel 6:1-13 “Real Might” Worship. The skill of communicationWorship is directed to the one true God but interpreted differently by different people. True might in worship is that connection between hand and heart that comes when we let down our guard and celebrate the Holy Spirit.

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Ashes and Crosses: A Deeper Lent

ash wednesday graphic
Lent is a 40-day season of preparation that reflects Jesus Christ’s 40 days temptation by Satan in the desert. It begins with acts of fasting and self-denial on Ash Wednesday.  The season is actually 46 days before Easter Sunday – the six Sundays in between are not counted, as they are “mini-Easters” and feast days.  People follow Jesus’ example and give up something important to grow closer to God as Easter approaches.

The dates for Lent and Easter follow the Lunar Date of Passover.  We know from scripture that Jesus was crucified on the Friday of Passover.  Passover begins on the first full moon on or after March 21. (The Spring Equinox) That gives us the date of the Sunday for Easter. You then count back six Sundays for season of Lent and the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent is Ash Wednesday.  Before the glorious celebration of resurrection, we look at our sorrow and mortality, represented in the ashes, which makes the cross necessary.

The ashes are an ancient symbol of death and an expression of sorrow.  One of the earliest uses of them in worship is found in the book of Job.  The ashes used in worship are traditionally made from the palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.  Mixed with a little oil, they become a rich and meaningful means of grace.

2018 is an oddity of Lenten tradition.  The Fast Day of Ash Wednesday and the Feast Day of Valentine’s Day fall on the same day, Feb. 14.  That presents a problem for some people who observe both holidays.
The observance of Ash Wednesday requires fasting and “giving up” something for Lent that fosters spiritual growth. Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love, often celebrated by eating out and giving gifts of candy. Some will just allow the overlap while other Christians will celebrate St. Valentines feast on the previous Sunday.

The Ashes of Wednesday are placed on the worshiper’s forehead in the sign of the cross withAshes and collin the words, “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” The cross is worn until the next morning as a witness to the Work of Jesus

Our prayer for you is that the season of Lent is more than just giving up Diet Coke or chocolate but provides a time to meditate on the deeper things of God.  Find that one thing that pushes your soul along that internal journey of salvation.  Rather than food fast, try a technology fast, give up a grudge or even a bad habit.  Consider giving up a block of time each day to devote yourself to searching the scriptures. It is between you and God what this sacrifice should be.

You are welcome to join the Cheatham Memorial United Methodist, 205 S. Houston (859 at US 80) in Edgewood invites you to two worship services on Ash Wednesday, February 14.  From 10-11:00 AM we will have “Come and Go” time to share the gift of ashes with a full service at 6:30 PM. Check out www.cheathamumc.net for further details.

The Balancing Act

 

(This is the third post and an exploration for January 2018 sermon series at Cheatham Memorial UMC, Click here for more information)

Success is more than just how we feel. What are the touchable parts of success and how do they link together? This will be a central part of the first of these January messages. These posts are my personal journey but can apply to anyone who to struggling to find success.

This Sunday is “Epiphany Sunday”, the last of the 12 days of Christmas and begins our quest to find success. This is the Sunday that we traditionally tell the story of the Magi and their three gifts to the Christ Child. The mysterious treasure of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The gold is easy to understand. This “metal of kings” is still a portable store of wealth and tradable for just about anything you want. Frankincense is not a western thing. In the orient, this incense. was a common item of worship. Owned by the rich, it is burned and produces both smoke and aroma that are a see-able gift to God. Myrrh is a fragrant oil, often used as a burial preparation, usually reserved for people with wealth. These were the best gifts for Jesus and the trappings of success.

My lesson is that of balance. Success is not just one thing. Scripture gives us clues through the gifts of these mysterious strangers.

  • Gold-life must have money in it. Money to keep things together, money to manage well and stretch its worth, money to share and help others. Monetary wealth is not inherently evil and poverty is not inherently spiritual. There are both wealthy and impoverished people in the Bible’s witness. The spirituality of money is more than accounting.
  • Frankincense-Life is worship. The successful life must express God. This is done through personal and corporate worship and brings strength and certainty. A life with churchy stuff but the absence of faith is empty too. Success stems from spiritual integrity.
  • Myrrh. Life includes death and all of its stuff is temporary. The successful life is an investment that grows and not merely a safe that holds the experiences and possessions that we acquire. Value on our things, possessions, experiences, or feelings, must be seen in light of their permanence. Salvation keeps death from defining life as failure.

Lesson for Success:  You are not successful simply because you got the promotion, built the house, earned the degree, married the girl, had the baby or got the really cool car.  You may feel successful for a moment but, without balance, you will come up empty and success will be false.  

Faith can make wealth and poverty, varying worship styles and doctrines, and qualities of life and death successful. Our plan must contain all of these three gifts bound by God’s Holy Spirit. This study is an exploration and must parse out the role of faith in success. The acquiring of success must include this trinity of things and concrete ways to express them.

More to come…..

The First Step to Success, STEP UP!

(This is the second post from a January 2018 sermon series at Cheatham Memorial UMC, Click here for more information)

Enjoy the Lord, and he will give what your heart asks. Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like high noon.” Psalm 37:4

I am in the first few hours of the morning of New Year’s Day 2018 and will choose my first words, first foods, first TV images, first posts and first influences of this year. These choices at the start will define the results at the finish. I choose Success and I know that God will be central to that living success. I don’t have this figured out, so we can do that together. Comments are welcome.

My first step to success, or better seeing daily success, is to define what it is. This exploration of personal success began at a retirement retreat hosted by our denomination and redirects my attitude. I was very anxious about providing for my wife in retirement and the planning set my mind at ease. The plan includes financial, tax and health care BUT also adds physical wellness, mental health and spiritual preparation. What failure it would be to gain a huge retirement and forfeit my soul to get it. Ultimately it must lead to more than that to be called a map to success.

The First STEP: START. Success is lived in the present moment-not in a vague goal in the life future. Working toward goals is necessary for healthy living. However, the goals themselves are not success but the life that is guided by them. We need that step by step SMART* plan. That plan must reflect a God sized definition of success or we plan to fail. How is my life a success and how can God use my first step to guide me to a deeper sense of success? Here is my start.

Seek God: There no wholeness without the Creator’s vision, focus, and eternal connection. Searching the scriptures, listening in prayer, engaging worship, and learning in small groups are powerful tools to understanding and achieving true success. Psalm 37 will be my meditation scripture for the year.

Seek counsel: “Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22. There are only a few people that I trust enough to converse with this. SO, I have included the blog and social media crowd to weigh in. The results. have been interesting. I have a coach who helps with vocational things and a trusted friend with the personal.

Success is not one thing: Think Broader than money. The social media responses so far center on Finances, Work/Vocation, freedom, influence/power, friendships, good health, and “happiness” . Spiritual matters have not been mentioned frequently by others so I will add them. Simply achieving anyone of these is not success.

Choose your areas of success: Start with your relationship with God. Seek and you will find your way. Choose five areas of success, I chose God, maintaining relationships, finances, Church (Work) goals, Educational goals. Inventory where you are and look to where you should be. Let faith define what is realistic. Think about the end and not the rocky first steps. JUMP!

Write it down and look at the plan often: Mine is taped to the lid of my iPad. You could put in on your computer start up or tape it to your bathroom mirror but if you don’t look at the plan you lose its vision. By the way…things change. Plan for course corrections without compromising on the big picture.

A warning. Not everyone should be allowed in this part of your life. You will need people that love you enough to critique but you DON’T need people that will selfishly drag you down or talk you out of your success. Find that one companion and visit regularly. START YOUR SEARCH AT CHURCH!

More to come

*Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. Check out YouTube “SMART Goals, Quick Overview.”

Success, Elusive Success…

What is success? The common answers are usually and emblem of success such as money or power. OK, but what is the essence of success and how does the Christian life inform it. Success will be our exploration for the January 2018 sermons at Cheatham Memorial UMC.

It is also a personal reflection from a personal struggle and would apply to anyone struggling to find success in their life.

I am turning 60 this year. For the first time, people are offering to give me the senior discount at restaurants! I feel fruitful as a Christian, passionate as a pastor, loving as a husband and grandparent, and a real part of my community. However, looking back, I really struggle seeing my life as a success. Do you ever feel that way? I would like to know what God’s definition of success is through scripture, witness and a season of prayer.

Please share the journey with me. Write a comment below with an answer to these questions: What is a picture, emblem or symbol of true success? Who is the most success person in your life and why? Finally, “what is success in your life and what does that look like”?

The four sermons for January will explore Christian success in four characteristics, through the witness of four Biblical Figures, These messages are:

  • January 7, in Communion Sunday and will explore, ” Success requires Focus: Peter’s success” from Mark 8:27-Peter grows from a bumbling disciple who is always tripping on his own tongue into the ͞rock͟ upon which the church is built. His influence is still felt today and his success transcends monetary success.
  • January 14 brings, “Success Requires Love: Ruth’s Success” from Ruth1:1–22. Relationships and family ties have more to do with success than money does. In Christ are the seeds to strong families and and influential faith.
  • On January 21 , “Success Requires Direction: Paul’s Compass to Success”” from Galatians 5: 13-25. Following the dollar is not enough. The spiritual compass is not always the easiest to follow and the life in Christ is hard to account for. We need to know how to read our scoreboard.
  • Finally on January 28, ” Success Overflows: The Wealth of the Christ. ” looking to Matthew 25:14-30. True success brings in the Kingdom of God-That means everyone’s lives improve. Success was never meant to be held but to overflow in ways that bring salvation .

I continue to look at these questions very personally. My answer? Success happens when my surroundings, family, church and community, are better because I am there. Faith in Christ is central to my definition of success but Jesus must be more than an excuse to explain any short comings. Journey with me as we find our way together. Success simply must be more than just driving a nicer car.

(Photo credit: Amanda and Jason Patzke)

TOUGH ENOUGH FOR TOUGH TALK

The church is the place to ask God the tough questions.  You know, the ones that you are either afraid to ask or the ones that you have given up on being answerable.  These can make faith hard to “nail down”. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers.  My faith is challenged just like yours.  I do know the source of them which is God and God is tough enough for us to ask the tough questions. Our savior is also tough enough to be yelled at on occasion. Join with me in searching for answers to salvation, death, injustice, suffering and more. The journey is the point here and not simply the answers. Come walk with us.

Here is our road map for the journey:

October 1 Pentecost 17 “OK, But Why your Son?”

Read John 5: 19-29.  The question: Why did Jesus have to die? Focusingg thought: God loves us so much that He would do anything to save us.
Couldn’t there have been and kinder way to do it than to allow Jesus to die so cruelly? We will explore
salvation, death and resurrection and look for answers to help us grow in faith. 

October 8 Pentecost 18 “But Why does it happen to the ones I love?”

Romans 5 , Why do people have to die? God is almighty and our creator. I believe in heaven and eternity but
still ask why the ones that I love have to die. We will address fearless living.  

October 15 Pentecost 19 ͞Why is life just too much sometimes?’

Job 1: Why do we suffer? Sometimes it just isn’t fair and I didn’t do anything to deserve it. Also, some people
just seem to have more struggles than others. Where is God in the hard times when it just isn’t fair.

October 22 is a special LAITY SUNDAY!

October 29 Pentecost 21 (Halloween is on Tuesday!) ͞Why didn’t you fix that͟

Genesis 3: Why is there evil in the world? God could have killed that stinking snake in the Garden? C’mon
God, why didn’t fix that. The theodolitic/Faith crisis. What happens when our faith has no answers and how that cripples some while increasing the faith of
others.

November 5 (Communion Sunday) “The Moses Seat”

Matthew 23: 1-12 Where is the source of the wisdom? I need better questions and answers!  “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, The scribes and the Pharisees sit onMoses’ seat; 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do notpractice what they teach.”Where are you practicesDO. 

Do you have questions about these passages or about the Christian life in general?  You are welcome to make a comment or contact me through our church website at www.cheathamumc.net.  I can also email you a pdf of our study guide if you wish.  Blessings to you my fellow traveller in Christ!  

On Hate:  One Christian’s Reflection

Hate is the enemy and not the remedy. The outbreaks of hatred in Charlottesville and Barcelona that have made all of the news cycles are a symptom of just how sick our culture is. The surprise and shock that people have shown over this show of racial supremacy is another symptom-we as a people are not paying attention. The notion that this was settled racism in the ‘60s and we have all joined hands to sing the Coca-Cola song has been shown to be a lie. 

Another lie- Hate is being misunderstood as social action. Hate is the central doctrine of highly organized, well funded and diverse groups preaching the lie that one person’s hate is morally superior to that of another. As such, hate is justified as a tool for creative change and promoted as a virtue of strength. I am too sick to be angry, too sad to be mad, and I suspect that you are not even surprised by these horrible events. They seem to be inevitable and we are losing our shock at them. Will we wait until it hits home before we do something? But, what can we do?

Some things I know for sure as a Christian. We are the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church is the engine of salvation and offers a remedy to sin. God does not hate and did not call us to these horrific events as ministry. God has the big picture but he has called us to specific action here and now. Finally, love and forgiveness are the keys to this action-Quoting Bishop Scott Jones,”Racism is incompatible with Christianity…I encourage all Christians and especially all United Methodists with whom I have a special relationship, to take steps to support people of color and condemn racist behavior.”   

By the way, I am a person of color. It is not my pale skin that is my identity though, it is the Grace of my savior, Jesus Christ. I intend to see others in that same light. My prayer is that we can be and become “Jesus-Colored” and see His grace in everyone, even those more hate filled, destructive people around us. “…unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together” (Ephesians 4) is God’s creative way of building community. Hate cannot build and racism is just another way to say hate.

God’s call on us is to love someone. The call on us is to love those who are scary or dirty or different. That does not mean we push safety aside, nor does it mean withdrawing from the world and living only with our own. We cannot fence off 100 acres, build in the middle, and still follow the call of an almighty and loving God. So what steps do we take. I cant speak for you but this is my stand and I pray you will join me. 

Step 1: Take our faith in Jesus personally and seriously by studying, praying, worshiping and serving. I will apply what I learn to my everyday living. I will not live in the naïve notion that I can change anyone else or that people will just naturally follow along. Before we start our day, faith has to be personal.

Step 2: Engage the Church and connect our gifts with other Christians to make a difference in our families and community. I will not tolerate institutional hatred and will reach out to others that claim Christ as the Way with proactive opportunities to work together. There are two projects with the potential to reach out today. Simply singing “we shall overcome” is inadequate. Before we start our day we need to pray for those who walk with us and those who ought to walk with us.

Step 3: Restrict our diet of media news and seek news of the good things going on. I will not be held hostage by the narrow focus of the 24 hour news providers. Some things need more time and attention while other don’t need any at all. 

Step 4: Allow God to be the majority vote and seek discernment over a popular vote. I know this takes real work, focus and courage. I am ready to step up by faith and grow in Christ rather than submit to hate.

How about you? How about us? Let the church arise and grow together and out-love the hate in Jesus’ name.