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.”

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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.   

Honest Joe! August 2017 Worship together!

honest joe source slide in jpgThis month’s series looks at the life of faith through the lens of Joseph, son of Israel/Jacob. He was the pampered youngest son of a family that put the fun in dis-functional. We will explore four answers to the questions we have about faith in real life and in real time. Joseph’s story is an important cross road in both Jewish and Christian history. Join me in studying through his story! Joseph is more than a colorful coat!

Continue reading “Honest Joe! August 2017 Worship together!”

An Honest Joe: Worship and Study Guide

honest joe source slide in jpgThe Bible is a living connection to God and people.  In Joseph, the son of Jacob/Israel, found in Genesis 37-50 is a life full of those connecting moments.  Honest Joe’s story is more than just a colorful coat and contains tips for successful living.  Our Cheatham Memorial United Methodist Church family will being studying through these chapter in our August 2017 sermons.

We welcome you to follow along and comment.  Begin with this  “Infographic”, follow the study guide and  make comments from your own experience.  Everyone is welcome to comment.  Check out our Cheatham Memorial website for more details. (  Put your US Mail address in a comment and I will send you a paper copy if you wish)

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Here are the four topics that I picked and a 30-Day reading guide.  This is less than one page per day f reading!  Please leave comments to those things that gave you something that adds value to your life!

August 6, 2017: Weekley Reading Genesis 37-39
Genesis 37:12-28 “Faith is a Journey”.

August 13, 2017: Weekly Reading: Genesis 40-42
Genesis 39:1-23 “Life Can Be a Dream”

August 20, 2017: Weekly Reading: Genesis 43-46
Genesis 45:1-18 Forgiveness: A New Beginning”

August 27, 2017: Weekly Reading Genesis 47-50
Genesis 50:22 “Faith Gives Birth to Faith”

Where do  you find yourself in Joseph’s story?  LEAVE A COMMENT! Thanks for reading along with us!  Looking for a church home?  We have a great church family. Join us!

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Cheatham Memorial United Methodist Church

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Have a Heart Like Jesus-Summer Sermon Series

Our Children at Cheatham Memorial UMC have been challenging us to “Have a Hear Like Jesus” and the. Grown up Kids are going to try to keep up this summer.  Each of our June and July Sermons will explore one aspect of Jesus’ heart and how we can adopt this for ourselves.  This is where a healthier life comes from.  Expect practical ways to find this heart in yourself.  

Here is where we are coming from:  Our Mission: Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.  Our Vision: We are Christ’s Love in Action: Following Christ, Serving Others, and Unifying the Church.  Our Drivers: Loving God’s Word, Deepening the life of Prayer and developing ministering Skills.

Are you looking. For a church home?  Maybe its been a while since you have been? Our family is very warm and easy to break in to.  Come Check us out on Sundays at 10:00 AM. Click here to go to our website for more details.  

June 4: Pentecost Sunday! Wear Something Red, Holy Communion 

John 7:37-39 and Acts 2:1-21 Have a Heart Like Jesus: An Overflowing Heart

The heart of Jesus is never a stagnant pool but a rushing and refreshing river. With living water flowing from us, everyone gets “wet”!

June 11: Pentecost 1, Trinity Sunday

2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Have a Heart Like Jesus: A Heart That’s in Order

The heart of Jesus is people focused but Spirit driven. People and relationship are our priority but we also have a mission to accomplish. How do we keep that in balance?

June 18: Pentecost 2, Father’s Day, Children’s presentation

Romans 5:1-8 Have a Heart Like Jesus: A Heart that’s Right

“We are justified by faith”. What does that really mean? It means that we begin with the heart of Jesus which is right with God and just toward God’s people.

June 25: Pentecost 3 

Romans 6: 1b-11 Have a Heart Like Jesus: A Heart that’s new

The heart of Jesus knows what sin is and how to die to that sin. That means that the Christian is new every morning. Rather than carry the many burdens of yesterday, Jesus moves us forward to significant living here and hereafter.

July 2: Pentecost 4, Independence Day Sunday, Patriotic Theme, Holy Communion

Matthew 10:40-42 Have a Heart like Jesus: A Heart in Action.

A heart of Jesus knows that love and faith are verbs. We will pray for our nation and move our feet to faith driven and spirit led action.

July 9: Pentecost 5 

Matthew 11:25-30 Have a Heart like Jesus: A Heart at Rest

The heart of Jesus has a still center. This is not natural nor is it a part of our frantic culture . Stillness in the storm is a discipline that lets Jesus carry the load while we move forward in the work of building his kingdom.

July 16 Pentecost 6 Children’s Music

Romans 8:1-11 Have a Heart like Jesus: A Heart with a Witness

Jesus has a heard that is free and focused on God. From this heart our words match our action and we become a living witness to the amazing”raised up” grace of Jesus.

July 23: Pentecost 7

Genesis 28:10-19 Have a Heart like Jesus: A Heart that Dreams.

Life is a journey with many milestones. The heart of Jesus is one that is not afraid to dream. We have a lot of mundane and everyday things that wear us down. Dreaming God sized dreams fill us up!


July 30 Pentecost 8 Covered Dish
 

I’m Romans 8:26-39 Have a Heart like Jesus: A Heart that Prays

The heart of Jesus prays large and confident prayers that are more than merely words. When things do seem to “all work together for good”, we need to pray from the Holy Spirit, our place of strength.

August will continue a similar theme as we look toward the “NEW YEAR’S DAY” of back to school. August 20 will be a children’s service and honor our teachers.