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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.

Advent 1: The Sunday of Hope-Interactive

Cheatham Memorial’s Sermon series for Advent is “Christmas is a family Story” with firstcandlelight-151224-155_0036 Sunday of Advent being the Sunday of Hope.  Our message for Sunday, November 27, 2016 came from Matthew 1:18-25  and was titled “A Family of Hope”.  Please read this before you finish this post.

The Blble’s focus is on the Holy Family and lifts them up as an example of how our families need faith to be healthy and thriving.  Mary and Joseph are struggling here but HOPE KEPT THEM GOING. If your family, whatever it looks like, is struggling, there is hope for you in Christ. 

Hope is born at home when our home is in Christ.  Hope is born in a family, hope is learned in our families, and hope is a key element in our life of salvation. Family is where God created the space for your faith to be formed. This is why family is so important to God

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The beautiful young ladies are our hope and remind us  what hope looks like. They beam with the life of Grace.  We owe them the gift of Hope that Jesus brings to our family and share the story.

The Bible’s word for hope is elpis (el-pees) and is defined as a trust, confidence, expectation and anticipation of welcome and security.  It is the sweet sister of the word faith and is the fruit of good character which is founded on faith in Christ.  Hope is how faith carries on when times get tough.  We can do anything as long as we don’t lose hope.  Hope as a family value is multiplied as our family grow in both number and spiritual maturity.

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One carrying a grandson due in January, one with twins in April and one Son-in-Law absent- that is 15!

Teresa and I married.  That makes a family of two.  We have three married children, two grand’s and three more grand children on the way.  Our family is now 15 which means our influence has gone up over seven fold. 

Hope is more than a numerical change though, also we have all grown in faith.  Our family is not perfect.  We have all had times of darkness and doubt but draw on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His living hope that we will outlast our troubles.  Our relationship with Jesus is eternal, our trials are temporary, and our life of salvation is always growing stronger.  THE FAMILY IS THE PLACE WHERE THE SEEDS OF HOPE ARE PLANTED AND NURTURED AND TOLD IN OUR FAMILY STORY.

Matthew chapter 1 begins Jesus’ genealogy and lists the super heroes of faith.  If Fred the donkey thief was in there somewhere but somehow became forgotten.  The family story  of hope has a healing amnesia that conquers the darkness.   It shows up in Jesus family just as it does in ours. There are two lessons here.  One, that the Holy family is called of God and two-family MATTERS!

Joseph was not superman, he was a working guy-a carpenter- and he knew without a doubt that Jesus wasn’t his child.  He also knew the living God and was a spiritually sensitive soul.  When the angel of God spoke he obeyed, knowing the cost to his reputation, his family relationships, knowing he was losing his home town, and his business.   Joseph chose to cling to the hope of the future and the direction of God rather than divorce.

Mary knew her lord, knew without a doubt that God is the source of hope for her family, that hope wouldn’t come from the neighbors,  She and her husband would cling to their faith and live the promise growing within her body.  This family is not so different from yours and mine.  They could have doubted and split. Instead they clung to God’s hand and their unique calling as a family and overcame.

Here are my observations and some questions for myself that I found in the text-

  • First, The center of everything in this text is HOPE from Christ. That hope is caught by faith, taught in the hard lessons of life, and transmitted to the next generation.
  • Hope begins with a praying parent, preferably TWO, but God will use what you have
  • No family is perfect but faith perfects life and forges hope
  • The Christian life is real life and God meets you where you are.
  • If any member of the family grows in faith, the whole family grows in faith.

Here is the interactive part-Add your comments below and share the overcoming hope that you either have or need.  We are all better if we share

  • If you aren’t a Christian or are but don’t go to church, would you be willing to try worship during the Christmas season?  What would encourage you to go?
  • What is God calling your family to do?
  • How do you plant or communicate hope during a hard time to your family?
  • How are you growing personally as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
  • How do you pray for your family members?

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What story does the “Bible” of your life tell??
For more information about Cheatham Memorial UMC go to cheathamumc.net

 

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Weekly Sermon Briefs: September 20, 2015, “Me Neither” Romans 1:1-17

This is third of four sermons on discerning God’s true direction for our lives, this week we look at MOTIVATION!  God’s will for our lives is healthy, sensible, less anxious,and  God want us to follow Him.

Our First sermon focused on prayer, Everything begins and ends with prayer, The exercise was to pray “ceaselessly” a spirit of prayer and not an act of prayer.  The second dealt with passion for this discernment- You have to want it. This week is motivation: What plugs you into the amazing power of God.  Its as present as a power line but you must connect! wherever prayer driven passion is, there will your motivation be.  Discernment requires us to  know it, grow it, act upon it and use it to grow closer to God.

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My grandfather helped found an electrical Coop before WWII.  This would revolutionize his rural area but at first had little impact.  Why?  There were few things to plug in and little understanding what this newfangled power did.  One man hooked it up, plugged in a light bulb and enjoyed the ability to read at night.  Everything was fine until he got his first bill-about a dollar, and he threw a fit.  If the coop would not negotiate a deal he threatened to take out the bulb and let the power spill onto the floor!  Not much understanding.

What do we Know, You have to plug in, it costs, useful,electricity 2 destructive, scary, You need to understand it to be able to use it. Electrons get excited at the source, are generated onto the transmission lines, do their work and return to the source.  Unplugging anything along the way that break the flow, stops the power.  The power is still there but the “Short-Circuit” stops the work of power.  So it is with the quest for God’s plan for our lives.  You have to plug in and pay the price!  When you plug in you will want more and this is this source of growth-moving from faith to faith! FAITH MOTIVATES FAITH in a self feeding circle! Check out the text!

Romans 1:1-17New International Version (NIV)

Paul is Asking Two Questions: What Motivates you and Us, second, What Should Motivate you and us. . The second question is the best question.

The text has three motivators for a follower of Jesus to discern God’s mission for our lives instead of a random decision or mere chance.  First, the end zone, goal, ground, plan and reward with responsibility is FAITH. We move from faith to faith to live by faith.  Second, faith in God is for us personally but lived out in community “Mutually Encouraged by each other’s faith”. We motivate and are motivated by our fellow travelers! Third and finally, The gift of “Sent-ness, or apostleship.” This isn’t geography but a state of the heart.  We are sent where we live to be plugged in,  excited, to give witness to the power given to us to work and return through praise  to God who changes our lives and the lives of others.

When we don’t have faith, work anyway.  John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement had doubts.  He received this advice from pastor Peter Muhller, “Preach faith until you have it and all you will be able to preach is faith. Keep at it through prayer, worship, service and keep your eyes on Christ

My motivators are these three things: I love Jesus Christ, why, this is the source of love I have for others. I Love his church, This is his chosen powerline to transmit the very salvation of the world. NOT THE SIGN OUT FRONT! But the Jesus within the Church. and finally, I Love You, A pastor’s love is a funny thing these motivate me, drive me out of bed and keep me going. Few know the lengths I would go to to introduce you to Jesus, or a better way to deepen your walk with him.

So now we ask the question, SO WHAT? Ask these three and write down three things and pray for them to be your source of spirit led motivation!  Give them to God and find a new energy for spiritual growth.

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Paul said, I am not ashamed of the Gospel! Me neither, how about you?

These briefs are a follow up to our Sunday worship.  I pray that you enjoy them but they are not a substitute for being in church.  Attend your church or come see us at CMUMC.  Do you have questions about how to become a Christian?  contact me at revavanhooser@gmail.com or click on the icon below to contact our office.

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Thoughts From the Back Porch: September 11, 2015

This is the view from the back pback porch in fogorch, 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.  Here’s whats on my heart…………

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,  they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;  planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.

-Psalm 92:12-13

Today is a mild and foggy day that brings the hope that the Texas furnace of summer wont last forever after all.  Each year I learn something new and this year it is plant propagation. My classroom is an array of pots and benches which hold the survivors of the herbs that I have tended since Easter. I have read books and studied article and videos but today I am thinking  of the many gardeners that have encouraged and taught me. This is my partial list. It is a good exercise for us all to make one of our own

Granny Mitchell could “steal” a pinch off of anything, stick it in a chipped coffee cup and make it grow.  Homer Johnston, Raymond Daigle, Herb and Mary Beth Stafford and St. Cecil Vincent could grow vegetables on a parking lot while I fought my crop of nutgrass in the richest soil.  My thoughts then go to those who could raise people like Jim Turley, Keith Witaker, My Dad and a thousand others… and ultimately to the master Gardener of hearts, Jesus Christ.

I tend to these plants to point me to the tending of disciples, especially myself.   How do I help tend God’s garden in such a way that faith is multiplied and roots deepen?  How about you?  Who is counting on you for tending and who is tending the garden of your heart?

This is not something left to the preacher.  You have someone in your life that needs encouragement, correction or education and, like me,  you need the same tending.  Plants you tend bear fruit for you.  You will receive these same spiritual blessings in the same measure when you give them to others in Jesus’ name!

My prayer is that you have a few minutes on your “porch” to recognize those people that need you and ask God to provide someone to be your heart-gardener.

May God’s grace grow lush and healthy around you, with an abundance to sack  up and share.

Great Site to learn:  Free Plants.com  Great Video:  Free from Propogation

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