The January 2016 Sermon Schedule

The Cheatham Memorial Family invites your to a brand new year of Spiritual Growth in Jesus Christ?  We worship at 10:00 AM each Sunday with activities for disciples of all ages and places.   The Theme for January centers around our church family’s growth goals:  Loving Scripture, Deeping the life of prayer, and developing our basic skills for ministry.  Each message will include everyday ways of doing and being a growing Christian.

Watch our website for our many worship, learning, service and fellowship activities!  Here are our study offerings.  Everyone is invited to search the sermon text BEFORE worship and then follow up with the Sermon briefs afterward.  Here are our offerings for January!

January 3, 2016:  Three Kings Sunday-“Epiphany”  Matthew 2:1-12  “Becoming a Star“.  We will search this story, which everyone thinks they know, and find some details that are their plus some things we thought but aren’t there.  In this story we will celebrate the role of searching with the eyes of Christ for grace in our everyday living.

January 10, 2016:  Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, “For Such a Time as This”.  In this passage that some call the “Desiderata”, we will celebrate and discover the role of timing in our everyday life in Christ.  Not just any timing but that of God’s timing.

January 17, 2016: the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, “You’ve Got This”.  Have you ever said, “Spiritual gifts?  I don’t have any.”  Wrong!  “A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good” 1 Cor 12:7.  Everyone has gifts from God to use for God.  By using them we watch God build us and others.  We no satisfaction and peace that we never knew was possible.

January 24, 2016: The Third Sunday after Epiphany, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, “Pieces, Parts and Whole”  In this often quoted text we will celebrate the role of order in our discernment of God’s direction for our everyday living.  We each are a part of someone else’s lives as well as taking care of our own.

January 31, 2016:The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, 1 Corinthians: 13:1-13, “Never Fails….: This is a continuation of last week’s text and a discovery of our driving motivation to be and become a Christian disciple-LOVE.  The very word is often abused and misused.  To grow in grace is to grow in love in our everyday living.  This is more than a wedding scripture!!

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December and Advent 2015 Sermon Schedule, Cheatham Memorial UMC

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Click Here for the CMUMC website!

The Cheatham Memorial Family invites your to Celebrate the Christmas season at 10:00 AM each Sunday.   The Christmas special music is from the musical “Mary Did You Know” and is centered around 5 questions “Did you know…..?  We would be honored to be a part of your family’s Christmas.

Watch our website for our many worship, learning, service and fellowship activities!  Here are our offerings for November.  If you are viewing this from far away,  Check out our Smart phone Bible study BEFORE the sermon and the Sermon briefs as a follow up after the sermon!

December 6: 2nd Sunday of Advent “Christ the Way”  Text: Luke 3:1-6  “John the Methodist”.  Did you know that God had, has and will always have a plan for your life?

December13:  3rd Sunday of Advent “Peace”.  Text: 13:2-13  “What about us?” Did you know that God has a plan for your life and living to succeed?  This will NOT BE A REGULAR SERMON! Our mission project for this season in an “Angel Tree” ministry to about 50 of our local families.  at 10:30, we will dismiss to the fellowship halls to prepare these gifts!  Everyone will have a task to do !:

December 20:  4th Sunday of Advent  “JOY”.  Text Luke 1:39-45  “Why Such a Hurry?”.  Did you know that when we recognize Jesus JOY breaks out?

December 20 at 4:00 pm we will host a community service of old fashioned carols and special music at the Edgewood Heritage Park’s “Church in the Wildwood”.  This is an amazing and fully restored  building that housed our congregation in 1897.  Make this a part of your family traditions!

December 24: Christmas Eve  “Completion”.  Text Luke 2:1-20  “Just as They Had Been Told”.  Did you know that you are the only gift Jesus wants on His birthday?  This will be a traditional service with music, special songs, our Children’s choir, candle lighting and Holy Communion.  All Christians are welcome to take communion with us.

December 27:  Christmas +1, Text Luke 2: 41-52  “What his Parents knew”.  Did you know that in Christ Christmas NEVER ends

Monday School: November 30, 2015, Coping with Christmas 1 of 3, Matthew 20:20-28

This is an overview of our discussion and not a text for success.  This is not just a Holiday thing either.  We are sharing stories and principles for coping with life and not just Christmas.  This is not a discussion of right and wrong behaviors but of healthier and unhealthier.  This is not a discussion of living stress free wither-only dead people are stress free. The trick is living in heathy stress and not constant distress. There are no quick fixes but this story gives us a framework for discussion.

Read our story from the Gospel of Matthew and follow along as we ask the text some questions:  Click here for Matthew 20:20-28

Our discussion of the text:  James and John show up to see Jesus with their mom.  She asks them to make these two the number two and three people in His messianic kingdom.  She misunderstood the kingdom to be an earthly-political one while Jesus was teaching that it would be one in heaven.  While she only had her community model to understand a kingdom, she knew Jesus, recognized  and she had faith that He could make her request happen.

Jesus gave them all a question as an answer and used Holy Communion language to teach them.  He is asking, “do you really know what you are getting in to.  They said sure and then Jesus said, “You’ve got it!”  BUT the three seats of leadership are not His to give nor theirs to receive-they are for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Later, Jesus would gather them together, with all of the grumbling, and explain that their mission was not to set up another human led, lord and master government system.  The Kingdom of God would be spiritual and focused on serving others rather than being the big dog in charge and being served.  Jesus did not die the make them power people but to be their ransom-payment-redemption, freeing them for a rich life that changes the world.

After this rather lively discussion of the text, we turned the worksheet over and asked these question.

  1. Who brought whom to Jesus? Did mom bring the boys? Or did the boys bring mom to fade the heat?  Who brings their mom to something like this!  Perhaps mom was that strong willed and didn’t trust her kids to stand up for themselves.  Maybe the sons brought mom to take the heat and passively do their talking to Jesus for them.  It makes a difference in our family dynamics.  Who is the strong willed in your family and who waits to be brought along.  Neither is more right or more wrong but you need to understand how that works to understand how a group of people come together and operate in a healthy way.
  2. Why did anyone have to bring anyone? The short answer is anxiety.  one or another was worried more than the other and pushed this action to relieve the anxiety.  Mom worried about sons, or sons worried about what Jesus would think or all of them just wanted to make sure they got to the front of the line.  Some things to consider
*The anxiety of each person in any group or family effects the anxiety of others.
*Some handle stress and anxiety better than others but everyone is two people; how they are normally and how they are when anxious.
*Self identity effects how we see God and hence how we see everything.  “Know thyself!”
*When unhealthy living is all you know, that’s how you go about living and will strive to make that happen.  Likewise when your family is healthy you will strive to maintain healthy living.
  1. First from verse 22: He calmly refocused the question in a spiritual way  in a calm place in a focused way.  When our family is in crisis we can begin by getting focused around facts and not emotion.
  2. Second from verse 23:
  3. And third from verse 25     How did this effect the group dynamic?  I made the other 10 “indignant”!  It caused stress and acting out.  He and gathered this family of disciples.  Being together in a familiar place is powerful but has to be mutually respectful  to be healthy
  4. What happens in football when you have 12 players on the field.. “Too many players on the field” gets a flag and the loss of control.  When an outsider or one unhealthy voice gets control the play has to change directions!  This is hard and usually goes against long standing patterns.  Jesus didn’t let the two define the mission that was to be their lives.
  5. What happens when one (or more) try define a group members identity.  anger with yelling?  anger with silence, isolating?  or….calmly sharing the cause and asking God to lead rather than the emotion of the moment.  Prayer is amazing when we do it at first instead of as a last resort.  Following Jesus’ calm yet firm persona.  He did not yell back and taught then retaught the role they would have and the one they would follow.  Consistency and discernment is a key.  Seeing God clearly through the fog of anxiety is key to getting started.  Knowing whose you are is key to knowing who you are and living in the healthy light of faith.
  6. What correction did Jesus offer?  Seek to serve and not be served.  Seek to follow God in spirit and truth rather than lead from your own limited vision and strength.  His witness and example would lead and guide all of those who follow.  It was suggested that this confrontation by James and John’s mom was embarrassing!  They probably knew the answer but pushed the point any way.
  7. Fusion versus differentiation:  Sometimes we are “Fused” as a group to the point that we lose all individuality-this is called fusion.  Sometimes we are so focused on ourselves that we don’t need anyone else-this is called differentiation.  The truth is that we float around somewhere in the middle.  We must know ourselves well enough to go to Jesus without mom making our case for us.  We also have to take on our life’s role with or without Mom’s approval and be ok.  We must be connected to our group but not to the point we have no identity-that describes a cult.  To lack any need for our family makes us empty shells and narcissists.
  8. Ideally, who should we “fuse” with?  The only perfect person that ever walked was Jesus.  He is the one who gives us an identity that gives us a life of significance here and life eternal hereafter.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Sermon Brief: November 15, 2015, “The Church isn’t a church isn’t at Church”, Mark 13:1-8

 

Click here to read This week’s text for this sermon bite.

This past Saturday I was rewarded with an honor that shows that my vast array of gifts and graces are finally being recognized  Members of our Historical Society, who care for our magnificent Edgewood Heritage Park ( it is a living museum!), sought carefully and bestowed upon me the august honor, I sniff back a tear just thinking about it, of making me a Judge, yes a juSlide1dge…..of the pinto bean competition.

While I am only a talented amateur at this time, with the proper training, focus and motivation I might go professional in the future.  Sadly, the title would not fit onto my business cards but I will prevail as people recognize this honor and see me in the light of a true pinto bean judging professional.  And when the pronounce, out of jealousy, that I am full of beans, I will proudly proclaim my gracious thanks for recognizing this wonderful filling within me.  Hallelujah and amen.

Silly isn’t it?  Be we  often have trouble see ourselves in our real significance as a redeemed child of God.  The disciples in our story have spent the day being taught by the one who spoke creation into existence and at the end of the day, all they can say is, “wow, we sure have a beautiful church.”

Look at the title;  The Capital “C” Church is the worldwide saving enterprise of which our small “c” church-congregation is a part.  and while it meets at the Church-House or sanctuary, of which we are blessed to have a great facility, the building is NOT the church.  Those smiling people at the top of the post are the real sure enough, Jesus following, Spirit led CHURCH. 

Slide2Admittedly the Jerusalem Temple was a big deal. Originally built in 957 BC, Destroyed around 604 BD, Rebuilt a century later and then remodeled just before the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, it was a huge facility that was more than a church.  This was an icon of the Jew’s national, racial and religious identity.

To the Jew, the Temple was a sign that God’s victory over the world and was a center of the world and not just the center of Israel.  The Temple is where God lives and provided a place to speak to and about God!  This was where people were led to God and learned the stories that edified faith.  However, it had sadly become and idol to some and an amusement park to others rather than a power center of God.  The Roman invaders used it as a tool of manipulation.  By controlling Temple worship and giving local leaders municipal “Bean Judge” type titles, a small force would control big crowds through brutality and civic organization.

Jesus would prophesy in verse 2 of the destruction in 70 AD.  It would beSlide3 the building that was defeated and not God!  This took the newly forming Christians back to the desert tabernacle and dispersed them throughout the world.  Jesus was taking the formal faith of the temple back to its roots.  He speaks of false messiahs, soul stealing rumors, family upheaval, political and natural disasters and redeems them from sources of fear to the validation of this new faith in Jesus the Christ, our God incarnate.  Jesus told them to expect these things, be ready for injustice and to speak in the power of the Holy Spirit.   The Christ would call for patience as “the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.”

This past Friday, this old pattern would come to call in the attacks in France:   At this writing there are 129 dead  with 352 others wounded, 99 of them critically in premeditated and coordinated attacks — This isn’t merely terror, it is war.  This is also not faith but a false and narrow chaos dressed up as religion.

In light of the horrific attacks in Paris, terrorist  tactics haven’t really changed that much since the first Century.  Neither has the Gospel.  We can watch terror groups who wage this war on us as they prey on populations who are  desperate , and will grab onto anyone that gives hope.  Beyond the extortion and brutality, modern terror groups are fixing basic needs, Providing an identification and a purpose “organizing social welfare programs and even recreational activities for children, distributing food and fuel to the needy, and setting up clinics.”*  This helps build community around the groups ideals.  They build on earth for war while we build for the Savior and His Kingdom.

Last Friday, the command to love our enemy became far more difficult and  Romans 12 says “17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[says the Lord.  The voices who spout wrath  can be attractive.  But wait a minute and consider a truly Christian response to this terror.

First, DON’T FORGET GOD, we must respond by a smart faith. Rage isn’t enough.  Warmongering at all cost in the Name of God on our own will is the height of spiritless and human centered Sin.  On the other hand Peace Mongering at all cost in the name of Jesus is lazy and far less Christian.  We cannot lose our souls by replacing our faith in the risen Jesus with faith in government and weapon systems.  Seek Christ by holding fast to Christian Standards and principals and recognize in this text, that this isn’t God’s first experience with this  behavior.  We must pray, search the scriptures and engage our enemy like never before and do it AS THE CHURCH.

Second, find ways to cope NOW: take care of our kids and other sensitive people by limiting the terrible images.  Stay informed but don’t add to the sensationalism of the Media.  Stay connected with God in prayer, study, service and worship.  Keep it real and not just routine to keep the fear in perspective. Be prepared to grow spiritually and be challenged in this “Desert Spirituality” in its great cloud of unknowing- “Wars and rumors of wars”.  Prepare for the future with and for the living God. We must fight by faith and remember that we do not fight alone.

Again, this is not easy but by God’s grace it is possible.  This isn’t about beans!  With the proper training, focus and motivation we will be able to judge a secure truth through the eyes of Christ.

*http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/12/world/meast/who-is-the-isis/index.html

This post is a follow-up to our sermon from last Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church to be “Welcome Home”.  If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family.  We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas.  Come and see us!

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Monday School: 1-16-15 Our “Spiritual Underwear” Final Week

The goal of this short study is two-fold:  first to understand more of our BASIC Methodist beliefs, and second, how to better express our beliefs to others.  We used the foundation of the Articles of Religion and the General Rules as a framework for our study.  Just as Underwear is the foundation of our clothing, usually unseen, intimate, different preferences on different people and keeps the rest of our ensemble together, so are our theological doctrines .

You can read the one-page General Rules with us by clicking here.

You can read the 2- pages of the Articles of Religion with us by clicking here.

Let me begin with my thanks to our group.  I rarely get to discuss theology at any depth and have never had as much fun as I have with YOU GUYS! 

Methodists begin by teaching the method to growing into our theological understanding.  we start with Scripture, use our God given brains to reason, reflect that with our Christian tradition and then translate into our living experience.  Add to that the fact that we are wonderfully mad as Biological, Psychological, Social and Spiritual and we look for balance in all things as we discern and discuss the words about God that we use.

THE THEOLOGICAL BALANCING ACT

We discussed our assumptions, or better our deepest beliefs, and how they color our understanding of God.  I shared mine, which are varied and admittedly overanalyzed.  Things like my role as a pastor to a community and not a congregation, the Bible as a touchstone, connection to God and people, the sacraments as a source of amazing comfort , on an on.  We encouraged to know our assumptions, non-negotiables and grow a willingness to be both “Critical and Constructive”.  See page 78-89 of the Book of Discipline.

The articles give us a language of faith but it is up to us to make them personal.   They are precisely written and intentionally placed in an order of importance.  Everything flows from God, trinitarian in our understanding, but ONE GOD.  We spent most of our time speaking of the sacraments.

The sacraments, specifically, Baptism and Holy Communion ( or the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist as you choose), are also a language of faith.  They are a doing of the story of God as Creator, Jesus as prophet, priest, King and redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the real worker in these powerful acts of faith.  It is amazing how common touchable elements such as water, juice and bread can reach to the invisible part of ourselves and awaken our relationship with Christ.

We also discussed the five sacramental acts of worship that other Christians count as sacraments, namely-confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction.  They aren’t bad, just don’t carry the weight that the Baptism and Communion do.

Each of us had stories of a time where the sacraments helped us to make sense out of something or met a spiritual need.  We had an “All Saint’s Sunday” a few weeks ago that was particularly powerful to me.  Each of us had a different take of what name we use for God when we pray.  Ultimately, the goal of any sacramental experience is to form our lives  into a living Holy Communion.

The question was asked, “how do you do that”.  This study must become more than words.  The short answer is to “attend to the ordinances of the church”, whether that is worship, study, prayer or service, in such a way that God is made real to us personally.  If God is that real to us personally then it will leak out into the lives of others.

I will not outline the 125 articles here but will point you to the link above and invite anyone of any denomination to look through them and discover your stance on the individual parts.  Please don’t stop there though.  Look at the whole of who God is and how overwhelming his love and grace is for you.  Studying these different pieces is not meant to just tickle your ears but to open your heart to a deeper working and practical walk with Jesus!

All of this and we never discussed the organizational structure once.  We will get to that on our next installment sometime after New Year’s

Next week we will take a November 23, 2015 off for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Our new study will be announced soon.   All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Everyone is welcome to add with a comment on the doctrinal statements below.

Click here to check out our main website!

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Thank you Captain Underpants for adding a little humor to a serious subject. 

Weekly Sermon Brief: November 8, 2015, “DONE!” , Hebrews 9:24-24

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So many of us become trapped in the “Shift Work” of life.  We work our shift only to begin again and find that spiritual fatigue subtly steals your joy.  The life in Christ can give us a moment to get off the hamster wheel and find a new focus through Christian spirituality-not more stuff but more faith!
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  You have heard this saying your whole life.  It is a fact of nature and economy-everything you have has been paid for.  Either you worked for it or someone else did, but there is no free lunch. This is the cycle of sin in our lives when we try to free ourselves with our own effort.
This saying comes from the New York City taverns in the late 1800’s.  If you came in and bought a beverage, lunch was free!  Lunch was also salty ham, crackers, pretzels and other salty food which, of course, made the customer thirsty for another beverage.  Lunch was not free-it was built in to the sale of the drinks!  You ate yourself thirsty again and again!  This sales tactic was so effective it was outlawed.  The liquid lunch was cutting into commerce and city services!  After such a lunch nothing could be done and many employees lost their jobs.  This free lunch was very expensive but they paid over and over again.
Our salvation covenant is paid for also but instead of a self absorbed and self destructive, Jesus the Christ paid our way at the cross.  In Christ we are constructed and not torn down.  Salvation is not free but it has not cost we can afford.  Jesus paid.  That is it.  DONE.
Yet…. our work as disciples, followers, students of Christ is NOT done.  We are redeemed by Christ-literally we have been released from the destructive cycle of the free lunch of sin and its destruction.  We are called to discover and grow in our faith.  We are called to do things that make us closer to Christ and not do things that obstruct our view of redemption.  The writer of Hebrews gives us a view of how this worked in the daily living of those first readers.
The worship of those days involved creating copies of heavenly things.  The patterns of the priest offering a sacrifice to take away sin had to be done over and over and over.  Christ sacrificed himself once and for all!  He suffered once and for all.  He died and rose once and for all.  And finally leaves us with the hope of his reappearing to finish the work he started.  No never ending cycle but a relationship with the God of all creation who has paid for our forgiveness once and for all.  In Jesus Christ, it is done.
We live in a faint copy of the heavenly things but our life in Christ is training for the real thing.  The rules described earlier in this chapter are the laws of the desert and not the law of the temple.  Christ is the living faith in our every breath and wooing us like those inn-keepers of old.  Jesus wants you strong, confident and bold.
Do you ever feel you are caught in a  never ending cycle of unresolved doing?  Do you feel the fatigue, the blindness and being sleepy when awake, Awake when you
should be sleeping, self feeding feeling of defeat?  This is not the life that Christ died for.  You are meant for joy!   The antidote is faith and that faith is not a do-it-yourself project.  Christ has a rich drink of cold water for you.
Jesus is the real deal-A remedy for the real world.  HE is the way, truth and the life and not a never ending cycle of following rules and religious actions to achieve a salvation that is already paid for.  He breaks the cycle of self-salvation for all who will simply follow HIM.  The Jews had been practicing the law for hundreds of generations, had it right, yet exchanged their relationship with doing a law that was impossible to keep.  They wandered until they discovered Grace again.  Jesus brought this saving, living grace to us all at the cross.
This was done and completed in Christ , so that we may serve the living God!  Not caught in a cycle of doing things to “get saved”,  Jesus has finished that work.  But using our faith as a way of growing for ourselves and witnessing as others.  Prayer, Disciplined time, disciplined space,  and church worship will not save us but it will lead us to that growing awareness of the one who can.
These are individual things but the life in Christ is Lived out in community.  We at CMUMC NEED OUR CHURCH FAMILY and are working  with our vision Statement: “Following, serving and unifying”. However, following alone is self serving, adding the church it become “Iron sharpening Iron” and growth for all.  Serving alone is doing good things but when you add this to our church life, it becomes a powerful dual witness, both for the excitement of the church family and the community.  unifying alone gives us that single mind of Christ-Focus.  But in the church I becomes We and a testament to the power of the Christ covenant to the world. Here is where faith is born and reborn as we search together and “eagerly wait for Christ to be more and more real.
Death is a part of live but death has no sting to we who are in Christ.  We are born to live for Christ here and eternally hereafter.   Christ sacrificed himself once, for all and delivers us to freedom through complete forgiveness.  But before that great and glorious day we are created for Growth, Sanctification, and Good Works.   Done with this ” unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace”, the life in Christ changes you and in you changes the world.

This post is a follow-up to our sermon from last Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church to be “Welcome Home”.  If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family.  We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas.  Come and see us!

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click here for our website!

Sermon Brief: November 1, 2015, “All Saint’s Sunday”, John 11: 32-44

All Saint’s Sunday is that day when we celebrate the lives of those who have passed away in faith.  It honors our dead BUT , like all worship, is for the living disciples of Jesus to remember that life matters and death has not victory over us. 

Our Text is the story of Lazarus from John 11:32-44.  However, we have saints among us who have been delivered from the grave.

Click here and see what an everyday saint looks like:

These stories have a lot in common with our text.  Each was rescued from the grave by an unseen hand, each experienced a variety of feelings, both in faith and in testing, and all left with a story to tell.

Jesus was not stranger to strong emotions.  He is seen in the Gospel being furious, frustrated, hungry, and even sad to the point of tears. At the grave of his dear friend JESUS WEPT.  In his tears the disciples would see love and not weakness.  The crowd would complement Him for them and then curse Him in the same breath.  This crowd could not have guessed the power over the grave that Jesus would show them, a demonstration of what would come again at the cross.

Lazarus and his sisters were old and dear friends.  In this came a tangle of emotions at the grave side. Mary began by faithfully knowing that Jesus COULD have saved her brother. Then, Mary was mad, in faith, and chewed out the creator of the world for His thoughtlessness.  Faith subsided, she was surrounded by her church family at the tomb.  They stuck with her throughout this four days and when it came down to rolling the stone, she  was more worried about the smell that her faith in the Lord.

They opened the grave first, then Jesus prayed loud enough for all of the people to hear.  He ordered His friend to trade death for life.  When Lazarus came out, Jesus simply told those who had the courage to go in with him to takes off the rags of death and this crowd would know that this was no ordinary man.  Lazarus was free and yet Lazarus would indeed die and enter into eternal life.  This brief reprieve would not cheat Lazarus out of his heavenly home.

So what?  What does this mean to us.This is what this means to me:

As Lazarus was freed, so are we.   The life in Christ a life sentence and not a death sentence.  This was a demonstration of God’s power to the living of today and not just then.  All Saint’s Day remembers those who have died, but this time is for us.  Confidence in living is ours and fear is crushed by faith.  Yet we grieve.

Grief is a part of LIFE, you aren’t whipped, It is not weakness, it is not condemnation, it isn’t because you did life wrong and it does not mean that God has given up on you.  We grieve BECAUSE LIFE MATTERS.  Jesus came to give us life and to have it more abundantly-both here in our time and eternally in our heavenly home!  In that abundance, in this time, comes loss.  With each loss we are reminded that all that we see is not all that there is to see.  With each loss we learn and grow and trust. Sometimes that trust will only come when the unseen hand of Jesus is all that we have.

Our losses are not always to death.  Yours could be a relationship, job, money, health, or our frustration with life changes.  The sisters in our scripture were faithful, certain of Jesus, rich, generous and still have the same grieving as all of the rest.  And Jesus was faithful to meet them there.  He is faithful to meet us where we are also.  In out faithfulness, there is still loss-that is Not defeat it is a human condition. A condition conquered by the sanctifying faith and grace of Jesus Christ.

Two things:  First, we must be rid of our grave clothes. In Christ you will find victory when life stinks.  You will have to work for it sometimes and the journey of faith will often be scary and uncertain but it will not be boring.  This is your life-Die like you are living eternally and don’t live like you are dying.  Participate in your lives and squeeze all of the good stuff out.  Then share your story.

So second, we don’t live only for ourselves.  Take another look verse 44:  “Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.””.  Them, brothers and sisters, is us.  We  are the everyday saints,  not perfect but redeemed, we are God called to share true living with those bound in a mummy’s rags. our story of faith matters.

This is what ministry is,  Many activities, done in many ways, using our many talents, at various times, to build us up, and ultimately to point to the resurrected Christ to others.  This service remembered our dead, but it is ministry to you, me, and we as the church as we celebrate and share the gift of the abundant life in Christ.

This post is a follow-up to our sermon from Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church to be “Welcome Home”.  If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family.  We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas.  Come and see us!

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Monday School: Our Theological Underwear as United Methodist; First of Two Weeks

Underwear is the foundation of our clothing.  It is usually unseen, intimate, different preferences on different people and keeps the rest of our ensemble together.  Our theological doctrines do the same thing.  They hold us together and serve as  the foundation of the ways that we speak of God.  They are usually unseen, intimate and  more assumed than taught.  Now and then a disciple needs to get down to the basics.  This week our group will put our core teachings right out in the open and studied them together.  In our United Methodist context, these are found in the General Rules and the Articles of Religion.   The goal is two-fold:  first to understand more of our BASIC Methodist beliefs, and second, how to better express our beliefs to others

You can read the one-page General Rules with us by clicking here.

You can read the 2- pages of the Articles of Religion with us by clicking here.

Our small group meets for 90 minutes each Monday at 6:00 we began by discussing how we “do” theology.  Methodists teach that there is a process to growing into our theological understanding.  we start with Scripture, use our God given brains to reason, reflect that with our Christian tradition and then translate into our living experience.

We discussed at length the three General Rules to Do no harm, do good and attend to the spiritual practices that lead us to God.  Many stories of how God had gotten our attention were shared from our diverse group.  We discovered that while these rules are Methodist and Wesleyan they are basic to any Christian of any background because they come directly from the Gospel .  Everything starts with grace.

I shared two things that boil my blood when people feel obligated to tell me what a Methodist is.  The first is when they tell me that we don’t believe in the Bible and don’t actually have any doctrine.  Second that we are about salvation by good works.  Teaching, learning and witnessing to our theological heritage is the antidote to this whenever, “Two or more are gathered.”

The question was asked if these two statements were meant to replace Bible study.  A great question but our answer was a definite NO!  The doctrinal statements flow from scripture but cannot replace scriptures role in the life of piety.  Searching the Scripture is central to the method of Methodism.  We are seeking God’s perspective.  One of our number shared that it was through prayer and Bible study that they were able to give a difficult thing up to God.  This led to the discover that “God, turns out, could do much better with things than I could anyway.”

We read through the first 5 of the Articles and will probably finish next week.  They are precisely written and intentionally placed in an order of importance.  Everything flows from God, trinitarian in our understanding, but ONE GOD.  Before we could subdivide the doctrines we must be in complete agreement of one God who is the source of forgiveness and gives us the living resurrection in Jesus Christ.  We also discussed the sufficiency of Scripture and what that means to our salvation.  While scripture does not directly speak to every single thing, it contains our sufficient road map to being and living as saved Christian disciples.

Wonderful things happen when we study our own doctrine and discover a solid place to find ourselves in Christ.  Our discussion was definitely Weslayan and United Methodist in scope, however, these things are so basic and scripturally driven that they can be applied to most any thoughtful Christian.

Next week we continue with the articles of religion.  You are welcome to join in or read along from where you are.  We will read them one at a time and find the thread of Jesus’ grace and the Holy Spirit that ties them all together.    All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Everyone is welcome to add with a comment on the doctrinal statements below.

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Thank you Captain Underpants for adding a little humor to a serious subject. 

Sermon Brief: James 3:1-12 “But We All Must Learn”

October Theme

This is the final offering in a series of sermons with the goal of clearing the clutter that we tend to pile around the Bible.  Join with us as we explore these stories together.  This week we are invited to match up what God puts in our heart and what we say with our tongues.

FIRST!    Click here to Read the Sermon Text: James 3:1-12

James 3 1-12On a Sunday afternoon in Freestone County Texas drought had plagued the land, humidity was about 15% and the wind was blowing about 30 miles per hour and there was not a chance of rain.    In the mid afternoon in an area called “Cotton Gin” a pasture caught fire and started a wild fire that burned for almost two weeks, destroying homes, outbuildings, woods and pasture.  the question would be asked many times, How did it start.  The story was that it began when  a squirrel got tangled up in a transformer and our corner of the world changed forever.   It is a good story whether true or not.  The conditions were perfect and only by the efforts of scores of firefighters from a dozen fire departments was the fire contained and eventually put out.

Looking around at our church we are experiencing the perfect conditions for a fire of another sort, that of God’s revival fire.  People are looking for answers in a culture that has none.  The church of Jesus Christ is still alive and relevant though not in fashion for the moment.  The fire of the Gospel is poised to catch and brings the fruit of joy and peace and takes away anxiety and death.  Only by the efforts of God’s faithful will THIS FIRE, one so desperately needed be contained and extinguished.   God is going to win.  Will God do so because of us or in spite of us.

The key to stoking this positive fire of revival, one that takes away devastation, is what my mom told me too many times, “Watch your mouth!”  This is central to James’ message to us in our scripture text today.

Remember!  There first person the preacher has to preach to is the Preacher.  I am not on any pedestal here.  We all stumble, we all shouldn’t teach but we must all LEARN! Disciples are students and can learn to control our tongues.  The call of God is spiritual maturity.  Maturity is best understood as growing in the Christ centered single mindedness of “Loving nothing but God and hating nothing but sin”.  Maturity is best seen when what we speak reflects how we are in Christ, maturity in this sense is being and saying exactly what God has called us to be.  This involves  focusing the tongue more than “taming”.

James tells us that no one can tame the tongue but we can grow and focus our words on the things of God. We keep our words from burning a life down and use them to  inspire spiritual greatness. These words are the seed of Revival fire, one that we don’t want to quenche. Only God can start it, and only We can prevent it.

We can tame the tongue but we must.  HOW??  Hit The Pause Button.  This is not merely biting your tongue or biding your time, or just cooling off.  But, Inviting the Grace of Jesus Christ to be more important than your words.  Your saying should be a reflection of your saving.

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Prayer is your pause button “pray always using spiritual Efforts”

Prayer prevents foot in mouth disease!  Our witness is more fragile, more today than ever before.  We simply must find our relationship with Christ and be a blessing and not a cursing. Our words show others what Christ looks like. Thus, you and I need to know our mission and know what that mission looks like in both our personal lives and in the lives of our congregations.

ISlide2f I know my mission, I can speak clearly of what I do.  This is the mission of the United Methodist Church.  While written to congregations, it is a solid and scriptural description of who I personally am in Christ too. Even in my congregation, my walk with Christ is person and I cannot be a transforming presence if I have not experienced it myself.  All of this is to God’s glory and not mine!

Slide3 This is our vision of what that looks like in our congregation. Welcoming, Loving with Action shown through following Jesus, Serving our community and unifying the body of Christ is what being a disciple looks like.  Saying what we mean and doing what we say is controlling our tongues.

We cannot tame the tongue but we can focus it.  We cannot remove all of our deadly poison but we can grow in grace.   Remember when we try our hardest- One squirrel can get tangled in our lives and turn our best efforts into a deadly wildfire!  Talk is cheap as “faith without works is dead”.  Be alive in Christ.

How will you and I we inspire the fires of revival.  It starts with our personal discipleship-accepting Christ as our savior.  We are formed as true disciples by Following Christ, Serving our mission field and unifying as the body of Christ.  These are the seeds of spiritual grown, thes are the seeds of revival.

This post is a follow-up to our sermon from Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church that makes you feel “Welcome Home”.  If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family.  We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas.  Come and see us!

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