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Christian Life Hacks-INTERACTIVE

The Internet Universe is over stuffed with “Hacks”, clever, small actions that improve your life. There are hundreds of thousands of “Hacks” out there showing you what you have been doing wrong. With them, you can improve everything in life from peeling pomegranates to ironing shirts. This is a list of spiritual practices. You aren’t necessarily doing them wrong but you might need a little jump start in order to experience a bigger spiritual impact.

Some of this list was collected from other places while others are my own. This is a living document. Please add your own in the comment section!

1. Bullet Point Journaling:“BUJO” is all the rage and has streamlined my rather hit-or-miss journaling. Another post on this blog shares my heavily adapted system. This system of journalling systematically and efficiently uses your journal as icon, focusing your spiritual goals in everyday living. The first page is an index followed by few pages of lists and goals. Know where you have been, where you are and where you are going in Christ through them. The rest creates space for daily lists of your encounters from each day. Rather than prose, you make bullet point lists-simple, clear and focused lists. One small blank book replaced my scattered notebooks.

2. Use color in your journal: I am not all that artistic but adding a cheap assortment of colored pens to my $5 blank book keeps me in the word longer and opens me up to the scripture from a different part of my brain. Simply adding the act of doodling helps me pray more creatively and connect with the word.

3. Create a “Monday Morning Briefing”: I have three e-mail devotional sources of different perspectives that I read each Monday and glance at through the week. This is an addition to and not a replacement of Scripture and prayer. You should choose three-A single source is thin while more than three clutters your in-box. Here are my three: Cary Nieuwhof-leadership, Patheos-a variety of posts that either edify or tick me off, and “Talent Smart”/Travis Bradberry-Emotional intelligence.

4. Create an email account for devotional posts: This keeps Spiritual matters from becoming lost in the pile and keeps you from checking work stuff at prayer time. My IPhone made this easy to check.

5. Keep it simple: I have chosen a small blank drawing-paper book and a small double-spaced journaling testament for morning devotions. These reside in my bag and go wherever I go. Prefer a tech solution? I carry an Ipad and phone anyway but I find too many distractions in them for quiet time. Analog or digital, keep it simple and easy.

6. Create a fixed devotional space with a mobile solution: My desk at home and at word are sacred spaces. At my knee is a bag where my prayer and devotional items live. I can work on sermons or pray through an issue wherever I am. My prioritized work list and prayer list share the same space and carry the same spiritual weight. How could this work in your life and

7. Make a photo of a critical prayer matter and use it as wallpaper: My kids, grands and church family rotate across the front of my phone as a reminder to pray and not just talk about praying. Even if your are just praying about bad weather, keep it up front.

8. Bookend your day with God: Condition yourself to make prayer your first conscious thought and a disciplined habit of your final thought as you go to sleep. This simple habit will change your life in Christ.

9. Turn those daily repetitive task into prayer time: I hate unloading the dishwasher and folding clothes but look forward to the prayer time. These mindless tasks are exceptionally rich times for prayer. The old monks worked with their hands while they prayed. We can make any space sacred.

10. Make Lists: Lists of Books read, edifying movies watched, Bible verses by topic, birds watched, prayers answered, and such can provide focus and depth for your devotional time.

11. Own a Psalm: Choose one psalm, pray through it until you own it, then choose another. This is God’s own devotional book and will open you up to spiritual riches.

12. Have and be a prayer partner: Devotional time is solitary but you were never meant to travel along. Find your intercessor then be available to someone else. NOTHING opens a disciple of Jesus up to deeper things like blessing another person in prayer.

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Our August 2016 Prayer Challenge

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

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Our Texas Annual Conference offers a “Wellness Program” with a structured exercise program through our health insurance.    Each week or so we are offered a motivational “challenge” that expands “Wellness” beyond exercise and weight loss.  The current challenge is “to journal a prayer daily”.  How wonderful to remember that our spiritual side is a crucial part of being healthy people.

So here is your challenge.  Write at least one brief prayer each week and post it in a comment at the bottom of this post.  Post as many as you wish!

Check in often and pray through the prayers of others who post.  This could be a part of your personal well and a jump-start to a richer prayer life.

Below is a worksheet that I use in classes and for writing group prayers in strategic planning.  If you are not sure how to form your written prayer, this provides a starting place.

As for me…..  I am going to write 100 brief prayers of this style in August!  Each time the Spirit moves, I am carrying a blank notebook to write them down.  Please join me and share how Jesus is touching your heart in prayer.

collect worksheet for individual prayer in gif

 

Summer Sermons! July & August 2016

Following is our Cheatham Memorial UMC sermon Planner for July and August 2016.  Our church is open to anyone seeking to deepen their faith and take part in significant ministry as a way of life.  Our Motto is “WELCOME HOME” and we know our congregation to be about these three things:  Fist, our Mission:  Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World; second  our Vision: We are Christ’s Love in Action: Following Christ, Serving Others, Unifying the Church. And finally, Our motivation:  Loving God’s Word, Deepening the life of Prayer and developing ministering Skills.  For more information on how we do that, click here and check out our activities on the main website. 

July 3:  7th Sunday of Pentecost

Text:  Psalm 33:6-17, Philippians 3:17-21 “God Country”

We live in the greatest nation with the greatest faith, the largest economy and the greatest technology in the history of the world.  How did we get it and how do we keep it?  Things seem pretty uncertain and we desperately need to look for this answer!  Join us with a theological look at what it means to be a Christian in the USA today.

 July 10: 8th Sunday of Pentecost

Luke 10:25-37  “The very first Lawyer Joke”

There are many lawyer jokes but only one that I know of in the Bible and it comes from one of the best known of all of Jesus’ parables.  Which one?  Look it up and see.  Do you get the joke?  How does your, mine and our faiths fit together?

 July 17  Vacation Bible School Wrap Up Sunday

Luke 10:38-42  “Kids Remember What Grownups Forgot”

God speaks volumes through children.  If you want to know God-Sized answers to God-Sized questions you must take on the manner of a child.  What does that look like and how do I get it?

July 24  “Lawn Chair Worship Sunday”

Revival Theme.  The text will be announces later for this morning of fun, barbecue and praise.  Outside service at 9:00 AM followed by too much food and lots of music!  See the main website for details.

 July 31  Lawn Chair Sunday Rain out Day

Colossians 3:1-11 “You Find What You Look For”

August 7:  Youth Service at 10:00 and Youth Rally at 2:00

Youth Speaker

August 14:  Block Party Celebration

Hebrews 11”1-13  “A Love Song for the Vineyard”

I’m tired, where is the faith I need for today?  The church is a fertile vineyard and Christ loves his church.  Still, some days we fall short of Christ’s vision.  The fruit of His vineyard is faith and faith is the seed where that fruit begins.  We will discuss our every-day starting place to find and cast that faith for ourselves.

August 21:  Back to School Consecration Sunday

Jeremiah 1:4-10 “Only a Child can Know”

We think of children as needing our teaching but often they are the example of faith for us grown-ups.  Faith is supposed to grow in us and mature .  Not knowing how the things of faith work is not an excuse.  I our “not-Knowing” are the seeds of exciting spiritual formation.  How do we build and plant that necessary faith?

August 28 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Hebrews 13:1-16  “Hospitality’s Gift”

Our church knows what hospitality looks like and knows that it is a FAITH BUILDER!  We are very strong in opening our home to others.  What do we get out of it?  Is it ok if we get something out of it?  We will discuss that gift that we get in return regardless of what our guests leave behind.

Coming Events:  Gideon’s Sunday on September 18,  Fall Festival on October 14 and a celebration service on October 15

 

Go to the main website!

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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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click here for our website!