March 28, 2011

6 Habits: Spend Time with God Daily

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:17 pm by Steve

Many of us struggle to find the time to read the Bible and pray daily. Often we start with unrealistic goals or expectations. We try to fit another activity into our already hectic schedules and simply cannot find an open block that size. That leads to guilt and guilt leads to isolation and isolation leads to more guilt. Let me suggest a way to spend seven to ten minutes alone with God each day. Start small and let it grow. Once you develop this habit, your time with God will expand at a natural pace as you experience more of God and see the world through His eyes.

Start with a simple daily prayer for God’s guidance.
Memorize a prayer so that it is always on the tip of your tongue in the case of emergency. This is one of my favorites.

Lord, be a bright flame before me,

Be a guiding star above me,

Be a smooth path below me,

Be a kindly shepherd behind me,

Today and for evermore. Amen.

Start with a simple prayer for God’s guidance as you read the Bible.
For Example: “Dear God, Help me to understand your truth as I read the Bible today.” This will take from 30 seconds to one minute.)

Take time to read enough of the Bible to develop a complete thought. Read a whole chapter or a whole story instead of a verse or two, here and there. Some stories in the Bible last for several chapters; some are only a few verses long. Read enough to discover a thought or principle you can think about during the rest of your day. This will take from four to six minutes.

Round off your time alone with God with personal prayer – really talk to God. As you begin, this will take two to three minutes. Ask yourself these questions: (1) When have I felt the most connected to God and why? (2) When have I felt the most separated from God and why? (3) when have I been the kind of person I really wanted to be and why? These questions will draw you into the heart of God’s will for your life.

Let it expand naturally as you develop your practice.

Finally, talk with God about the everyday activities that makes you “YOU”. (what are your wants, needs, hurts, joys, etc.) Do not Hold Back. Don’t evaluate what you think God does and doesn’t want o hear. You can’t surprise God, shock God, or reveal that dirty little secret you think He doesn’t already know about. By sharing your heart honestly, you get it out in the open and the secret is not longer dirty or secret. It’s power is gone!

You can use this simple acronym:

ACTS

Adoration    ex: God, I praise you for who You are, Your steadfast love and forgiveness and for believing in me more than I do.

Confession    ex: Forgive me for not loving others like you love me. Help me to put aside petty jealousy, pride and arrogance and to grow in my ability to show love to others. Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.

Thanksgiving    ex: “Thank you for the love of my family, friends and church. Thank you for loving me enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for me. Thank you for helping me become like him and to know the full meaning of love and forgiveness.

Supplication    ex: “God, help me today at work. I want my work habits to reflect well on you. Help our church to grow and touch many lives. Reach ___________ with your love and forgiveness and draw them to your side. Be with ___________”

Six Habits of a Transformed Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:06 pm by Steve

Six Habits of a Transformed Life

The Six Habits of a Transformed Life are at the heart of our Christian Journey. Nobody gets very far in life without some effort, commitment and follow through. They are ancient disciplines that Christ followers have practiced for centuries and all are proven effective in transforming the mundane and routine into the Adventure of a Lifetime. They are proven ways to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and farther our walk with God through every season of life. Every member is asked to practice these habits and encourage those around us in staying true to who we are as the Body of Christ.  While there are other spiritual disciplines, these six are at our core.

  • Spend time daily with God        March 28, 2011
  • Invite friends to church
  • Give generously
  • Serve in a ministry
  • Participate in a small group
  • Worship Regularly

Each week I will share some thoughts and helpful hints on how to follow through on these important disciplines.

March 13, 2011

New Spirit Church

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:03 pm by Steve

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
(Ezek. 36:26-27)

Imagine sitting around a campfire with a close friend. You talk about the day’s events – obstacles on the trail, unusual sights, and perhaps even about the trails you would like to explore. You talk about where the journey has taken you and where it may lead tomorrow. As the day draws to a close, you embrace the silence with grateful exhaustion staring into the crackling flames, quiet serenity envelopes you like a blanket. Although no words are spoken, you find you are at peace with yourself and your life.

Living the inspired life means living in moments like these. It means having a purpose so powerful that it guides even the simplest choices. It means choosing the path not because it is easy but because of where it leads.

Our lives are constantly in pursuit of a destination unknown to us. We feel like we’re late for a dinner engagement, but can’t remember the address. Frantically we try anything, go anywhere, or follow anyone who seems to know where they’re going. We’re lost and we know it. Where can we turn for help?

Engaging: I wish my church was a place where all people with all kinds of backgrounds, viewpoints, habits, hang-ups, hurts, successes and defeats felt welcome to belong and begin to imagine all God wants for them. I want to be in a church that encourages people to share honestly about where they are in life, their doubts and fears, as well as their hopes and dreams. Jesus was criticized for hanging out with “outcasts” and I want to be criticized for doing the same (Matt. 9:9-13). I believe that no true healing can happen until we’re honest about our faults, struggles and fears. (James 5:16).

Transforming: I believe church was created to see people transformed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Church was meant to be the place where addicts find liberation, workaholics find fulfillment, and where life takes on the grand adventure. I do believe that church is a battle ground where our best ideals are confronted by our own destructive selfishness. It is where a God encounter is life changing and admirers of Jesus become followers.

Connected: Only in trusting, committed relationships can we let go of the past and risk discovering a new future. Without healthy relationships life becomes a series of tasks, but with them every meal becomes a banquet. . Our dream is not that every person knows everyone by name, but that every person know a handful of people so well that when one of them rejoices they all do and when one of them weeps, they all shed a tear. The word on everyone’s lips would be “I’m so glad you’re here!”

Poured out: When we feel spiritually dry, we’ll do just about anything to quench the thirst. I believe that belonging to a church is an invitation to be poured out in service to others. I believe the church is commissioned to fill the darkness (Matthew 5:14), quench the thirst (Matthew 10:42) and feed the hungry (Matthew 25:37) whether physical, emotional or spiritual. I pray we never stop pouring out our time, energy, talent and money into meeting the spiritual, material and emotional needs of others.

March 11, 2011

Hear His Voice

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:17 am by Steve

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

If you had an opportunity to follow Jesus, would you do it? Sounds like an easy one to answer, until you think about it. And that’s the problem isn’t it, we don’t think about it. Most of us think of Christianity in the abstract, taking little time to really consider the practical implications of what Jesus said, did and asked of those who followed Him. So much so that when the real Jesus does comes knocking, we’re not that prepared for the shock-and-awe of who Jesus is and where He’s asking us to follow. So we create labels for those opportunities like ridiculous, outrageous, impractical, or simply crazy, and then watch God Himself walk right on past.

Such was my life and my spiritual journey until I met Barb and Jim Richter in one of those odd ‘chance’ encounters that creates an itch in your soul that no amount of religious busyness can cure. I first met Jim and Barb who live in Ohio last July when they visited the church I pastor in West Virginia as part of a Florida mission team. Coincidental? During their visit we were able to share a meal together, talk at length about their passion for Haiti and in general make a connection that looked an awful lot like a one of those crazy ideas. You see for most of my life I’ve been pretty comfortable listening to God filtered through stained glass and well worn traditions and translated through carefully crafted liturgies and my favorite hymns. But hearing about Haiti was different and I knew it. Up until then I really didn’t know what following the Shepherd involved. Maybe I really didn’t want to know or maybe God just knew I wasn’t ready yet to see the world as it is. Either way I knew this was no ordinary opportunity, it was crazy.

Over the months that followed I badgered Barb with too many questions, thought and prayed about Haiti, and worried how in the world I was going to explain this to my family and friends. I solved that last one by not telling them until the week before I left! In the end I’m not sure who took a bigger leap of faith, Jim and Barb or me.

So on February 1, 2011, I set off on my journey to follow Jesus to Haiti not really knowing what to expect but willing to experience the unexpected. During the week of our stay, my prayer each morning was simple but sincere “God grant me an encounter with you today that will change my life, no matter the cost.”

What God did was open the eyes of my heart to see the Kingdom of God, perhaps for the first time. I was so inspired and moved by the passion and spiritual connection Jim and Barb have with the Haitian people. In a country of unimaginable poverty, they have planted an oasis of hope for children who have no family and invite them to become part of theirs, to live, learn and know in Christ, and to ultimately become ambassadors of Christ to transform Haiti.

While in Haiti we were all blessed to participate in a true movement of the Spirit of God when six young people were baptized in the blue Caribbean waters. Through Jim and Barb’s passion for sharing Christ, I saw a man living in the most deplorable conditions accept Christ and come to church the next morning to hear me preach. (of course no one ever said if he came back the following Sunday) We played soccer with the kids, we shared our gifts and were overwhelmed by their love and generosity. I experienced an honest faith in Haiti that has been purified by adversity and is stronger through weakness. The Haitians love to sing and praise God, not for what they have but for who He is.

So much happened and so much was experienced in Haiti that I am unable to put into words. There impression on my life, however, will continue to be a significant part of my future.

I wish to thank God for Jim and Barb as well as Bato and Gina for their passion to share the Love of Christ in a real, honest and personal way without seeing borders, color or economic status. Maybe, in the end, the Christian life really is outrageous, impractical and simply crazy. And still he says “Follow me.”

Blessings,


Steve Gedon