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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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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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-A Precept Study of James Chapter 4, One more chapter to go!

The Adults Get to Color too...
The Adults Get to Color too…

It may sound silly but we employed three powerful spiritual tools for our study this week; God’s word, popcorn and crayons.    We ate popcorn as we pulled out three categories out of chapter 4:  What does God want us to DO, DON’T and what are His answers WHY? This was done randomly as we spoke the chapter out loud.  Ok, this not the usual outlining and discussion but the popcorn was good and the conversation was great.  I appreciate the group indulging me.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

Please take a moment and read the text before you read our note.  CLICK HERE FOR JAMES CHAPTER 4

We made our observations as the chapter was read and each person found their own voice in these powerful words.  We noticed that when you boil the do’s and don’ts, it came to two central points-Be Humble and draw near to God.  If you do those two things you are setting yourself up for spiritual success.  By this our plans become God’s Plans and not merely our own, our Prayers become God’s prayers and not just our words,  our Lives become God’s and hence devil free, our growth become spiritual growth and not just self-help, Our minds become focused through God and not random and scattered, and our misery turns to joy.  How often do we leave God out of our daily living.  It seems that the more stress we are under or the more important the issues the easier it is to forget the one with the direction and wisdom that we need.  As one of our group said, Obedience pays off.

Next week Chapter 5, the Final Chapter:  All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Group members and anyone with an observation on the text are welcome to add a comment

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MONDAY SCHOOL-A Precept Study of James Chaper 3

We have such a thoughtful group.  Small group studies are supposed to be for the benefit of the students but I feel that give me more to think about than I give them.  James is a valuable and usable book of the Bible and I do love to teach it!

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

It will make more sense if you take a moment and read the text before you read our note.  CLICK HERE FOR JAMES CHAPTER 3

If you look at the whole of this chapter, “Taming the tongue” and wisdom are intimately tied together.  These two things are essential to spiritual grown and a healthy witness to Jesus Christ.

We all agreed that this was hard and all of us have had “foot in mouth” disease at some point or another.  To be and become a mature, the literal meaning of “Perfect”, is centered on keeping your tongue in check.  It seems like such a small thing but it is amazing how a good word can change the world but a bad word from the same person can destroy it.  We bless and curse from the same face but cannot grow in Christ until we become a  fountain of fresh blessing.  Basically, James tells us that the tongue cannot be tamed yet it MUST be tamed.

Why, because it is wisdom that we are designed for and not merely well crafted words.  James presents two types of wisdom.  One wisdom is the “restless evil of earthly, demonic and natural wisdom.  This makes sense only if Christ is absent from our life.  And the peaceable, gentle, reasonable and merciful wisdom of Christ that is proven through our works, or fruit, of righteousness. We will choose one of these with our words and our works.  There is no “Both/And” it is “Either/Or”.

This is where this chapter meets the daily life in Christ; When word and deed meet in God’s wisdom and “Sown in Peace by those who make peace”, our lives flourish and those around us prosper as much as we do.

Next week Chapter 4:  The process of growth and the role of suffering.  All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Group members and others are welcome to add a comment

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“Monday School” A precept study of James; Chapter 2 week 2

Tonight we had some new folks and an excellent discussion! Our church family has set aside Monday Evenings at 6:00 for Adult Bible Study.  This is a 5-week Inductive study where we look at the whole to see where God’s direction comes from.  This group is bathed in prayer too.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.  No one is an expert.  We are all finding our way.

One thing I ask!  Don’t consult any commentaries until we are done.  One goal is to build confidence in our abilities to apply scripture

Our text is James Chapter 2 (Click Here)

This week, after prayer,  we focused on the key word, “Faith”.  We discussed the definition of the word and underlined each use of the word as the text was read aloud.

Faith is ultimately relying on God and puts life in perspective-it is not about us!

The poor were used as a positive witness of faith.  Why?  They appreciate what they have, have a perspective on what “things” matter, and they relied on God because that is all they had to rely on.

The rich were a negative witness on faith.  There must have been a problem within those first readers on the issue of favoritism and injustice to the poor or these would not be so prominent in James.  The rich were in a position to judge and were harsh to the poor, They trusted in their own wisdom, relied on their own resources

We shared stories about the struggle with everyday issues surrounding helping others-cat food, pan handlers and motel rooms to name a few.

We discussed when we feel alive and how that relates to our faith more than our circumstances.  We discussed at length the death that we feel when we don’t use our faith and just talk about it.  Prayer and study are doing something about faith formation to be sure BUT nothing compares with works done in the name of Jesus for someone else.

Everyone is encourages to leave a comment, especially group members.  All are welcome next Monday at CMUMC at 6:00.

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Thoughts from the Back Porch: A work in progress…

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The view from the porch

This is a book outline and a work in  progress.    The hope is to describe a way to grow closer to God and, as a result, have a less anxious and more fulfilling life through establishing a sacred space and time to train your body and mind to be aware of God’s presence.  My example of this is my back porch.

Everyone needs a back porch.  This is any place of solitude where you can shake photo_4off the world’s garbage and think God sized thoughts. Mine is actually my back porch, complete with a desk and prayer benches. It is my “Friday office”.  It is where I write and study on my off days. Yours might be anywhere but if you don’t have a sacred space of your own, I hope this blog can be your back porch and provide you a safe starting place to seek God.  The ultimate goal of this exercise is to recognize God wherever we are.

Follow along and comment where you wish and see where this goes.  Better yet, apply the principles and watch your awareness of God grow.

Read it and use it thoughtfully but remember, “Thou shalt not steal”.

Copyright Alan Van Hooser 2015, so there.

Thoughts From the Back Porch: October 1, 2015

  This is the view from my back porch, my sacred spot. This is where I feel closest to God and can separate for a few quiet minutes each day. I Hope you have a sacred spot and find your time with God today. It makes a life of difference. Here’s whats on my heart today………

Just past the full of the “Blue Corn Moon”

Establish your sacred space out of doors whenever possible.  I am blessed to have a large yard that backs up to a wooded property to charge me up with calm. This is the view from the space that is engineered to center me on God  Dawn and dusk provide the best time for me to be immersed in  the presence of God.   Amazing things happen as God creates a new day right before your eyes.
This morning is dark, 60 degrees and silent. No air conditioners or wind interrupt the stillness. The only traffic is from farm workers and night shift-ers. I hear my first flock of geese for the year fly overhead. The only light is the full moon hanging high but still they cannot be seen. In that moment the unseen Creator is as real as those unseen geese

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The early risers go about their day

My scripture meditation is Exodus 3-Moses and his angelic messenger found in the burning bush. There is a difference between being still and simply being outside.  Moses, the prince of Egypt and convicted murderer, was now a humble hired son-in-law working at the family sheep business. His wandering was God ordained and went on for many years. However, when the voice of God spoke through this angel, he recognized both the speaker and the holiness of this place.

Moses was on Mr. Horeb, the mountain of God!  A sacred space set aside for the spiritual searcher. How many other hired men might have grumbled about their work all self absorbed and missed this moment with God almighty?   Did it take more than one try to get Moses to notice?   After so long Moses was blinded by self pity and poor self esteem, as suggested in  Verse 11 suggests.   It would be easy to lose sight of God in the midst of it all.
How many of my neighbor’s this morning  rushed out and missed this sacred time and the connection of  the invisible honking geese with the majesty of God?  How many bad days could be avoided by a mere 15 minutes of intentional stillness.   God brought Moses to that moment and changed his world.  Where will God meet you today and change yours?

IMG_5589My sacred spot  is a covered porch but yours could be a hammock, car or a spot near a window. I keep plants to nurture in my sacred spot, you might choose to surround yourself with icons, artwork or a place to write or study instead.  A bench in a public park can be as holy as a pew in a sanctuary.

Actively Seek your space and surround yourself with things that point you to God.  Rise a little early and intentionally give God some time-as little as 15 minutes make a difference.

Search your Bible and other books for those images and activities that lead you to true prayer.  The ultimate life skill in these matters if to craft your sacred spot wherever you are standing.

The point of this is not what you do in your sacred space but what being in that sacred space does to you.

c. Alan Van Hooser 2015