Christian to the Core

A Call for Prayer and Fasting

Preparing for Commitment Sunday

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT


As we draw near to commitment Sunday, I’d like to encourage you to consider a time of prayer and fasting. I know. We’re 21st century Protestants. We don’t talk about fasting. But Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines that have been rooted in our Methodist tradition from its founding and can deepen your prayer life.

When you do a short fast, you are taking extra time to focus on God. It’s more than fasting from food and drink; it’s fasting from things that would be a distraction to prayer. Don’t watch your regular TV shows; TiVo them for later. Keep your mind focused on God for a short period, meditating on scripture, your prayers to God, and most importantly, listening.

What would the fast look like?

I’m seeking people in our church to fast and pray on Saturday night as we prepare for Sunday morning, a time to commit to God for the coming year. After sundown, avoid eating or drinking. You don’t have to skip dinner just eat dinner early.

Spend time as a family or personally in prayer. Reflect on the scripture passage for this Sunday. Read it multiple times and in different translations. Focus on the words that stand out to you. Ask God to speak to you through the passage.

Pray for our church. Ask God to bring unity to our church in the coming year and that we would be his living example in our community. Pray that we will be strong and reach out to those around us. Pray that we will embrace each other and those outside of our walls. Pray that God will show you your role in our church for the next year and how you can help us accomplish our vision to the community. Ask God how you can help further the Kingdom of God.

Spend time in prayer over your Financial and Service Commitments for 2017. Sunday you will be presenting those to God at the end of the service. Ask God to help you discern how you can give to help build his Kingdom and help reach those who don’t yet know him, as well a help build up his body.

Together, we can make 2017 a year like no other. We can bring people closer to God and make an impact for the Kingdom.

I'll be praying with you,

Faith


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Is our Time Ours?

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Romans 12:9-18, NLT


Have you ever thought about who your time belongs to? In the church world, we like to use the word "steward" a lot. It's a really old word. The people who study words (whoever they are) believe it dates back to around 900 AD. That's really Old English. 

What was a Steward?

A steward was a person who managed someone else's household and property. He would live in a house that was owned by the lord of the area. It was usually a really nice house. He would then maintain the equivalent of three counties today for the lord. He would make decisions as if they were the lord's decisions, but in reality the house and land still belonged to the lord.

Today, the dictionary defines steward as "a person who manages another's property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others." That seems pretty much in line with what it meant back in 900 AD.

What about Time?

Have you ever thought about what it means to be a good steward of your time? If we do everything on this earth for our Lord because we are his stewards, then everything we have is to serve him. Of course, we take care of our family in the process, but the purpose is to build his Kingdom here.

How then should we spend our time? We have to work or take care of our families. We have to eat, sleep, and exercise. What do we do with the rest of it? 

This week, I challenge you to look at where your time goes. Do you plan time to dedicate to God, or do you just give him whatever time is left over? Do you treat time as a resource or is it just a fact of life? I'd love to hear what you come up with. Leave your comments below.

See you Sunday!


-Faith


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Your Life is a Gift From God

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’"

Matthew 25:23 (NLT) 


In almost every area of life, we understand the idea of stewardship encapsulated in Matthew 25:14-30. We understand it and live by it. To get a promotion at work, you have to demonstrate competence at your current level of responsibility. Sometimes parents expect their children to prove their diligence at caring for a goldfish before they get a dog.

It works this way in the kingdom of God as well. God determines how trustworthy we are by what we do with the skills and resources we have been entrusted with.

This idea is graphically demonstrated in the passage cited above. The master entrusts a sum of money to three different servants according to their abilities. That last phrase is crucial. The master did not entrust the servants with more than they could handle, but with amounts that were fully in their capabilities. He then expected them to use the money for the master’s benefit.

It works that way for us as well. God is the source of everything we have. Our resources, opportunities, skills and even life itself are gifts from God. We were given these gifts to be used for the benefit of God’s kingdom. As we prove ourselves faithful with the resources we have, God will grant us more – because we have proved trustworthy.

As we continue in the Christian to the Core series, stewardship of God’s resources is an important core value of the Christian life. All we have and all we are is a gift from God, and we are stewards of those gifts. As a wise person once said, “Your life is a gift from God - what you do with that life is God’s gift to you.”

-Pastor Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

Family Priority

Where does the time go?

Look at your calendar for last month. Was it crazy busy? What about for this month, or even this week? Do you ever stop to wonder how family life got so busy? And as you look at that busyness are you really able to do the things that you most want to do with your family? What is capturing most of your time, and does that function have God changing leverage for you, for your family?

The core value of family is that God has given us family as the primary context in which we practice, learn and live out the grace and truth God calls us to. When it comes to loving God back with everything we have, family is both the easiest place to get started and the hardest place to consistently get it right.

This week, as we prepare for worship, think about the motivations that you have behind the choices that you make for your family with your time, talents, and resources. Then ask God to help you align what you do with what you believe. Ask Him to give you the power to make life choices for you and your family that most honor, celebrate and emulate Him.

Blessings!

-Lori


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Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.

Multiplying Disciples

You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.

2 Timothy 2:1–2, NRSV


Learning to Be Like Jesus

In the past the only way you learned a trade was to find a master of that trade and learn from them. That is still the way to learn many trades today: brick masons, pipe fitters, carpenters and steel workers.

It’s the same way with following Jesus. I marvel at the way Jesus handled critics, showed compassion and spoke about God. Those are things I would like to be able to do. So, the only way I can learn to respond as Jesus did is to learn from him – become his disciple.

Discipleship is, in the simplest terms, becoming an apprentice of Jesus. We become apprentices of Jesus by watching, listening and practicing what he did. To that we have to spend time with him in prayer, read his words, observe his actions, mirror his devotion to God and do what he says. However, to truly follow Jesus, there is one additional step we have to take – we have to make disciples too.

Paul Discipled Timothy

Paul describes the process for one of his young apprentices, Timothy, “Take what I have taught you and teach others who can then teach others.” That is the key. Being a disciple means that we pass on to others what we have learned from those who taught us, so that they can teach others. A true disciple never lets the process end with them.

Paul taught Timothy who taught others, who taught others. They taught others who taught others and so on and so on. Then someone taught Bertha Norris and Fred Melvin and James O’Shields and John Chisum and Dot O’Shields who taught me. Chances are you have never heard of any of those people, but each of them played an important part in helping me follow Jesus.

That is what Paul instructed Timothy to do. It’s a job not just for ministers, but for everyone. Only two of the persons listed above were ministers; the rest were just followers of Jesus who cared enough to share their lives in Christ with me.

What about you? Is there anyone around you who needs an example of how to follow Jesus? I think there is.

Blessings!

Alan


CLICK HERE FOR THIS WEEK'S FAITH NOTES.


Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.