[Beyond Sunday] If You Really Knew Me

image: Detail from Sistine Chapel 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

-Psalm 139: 14

We all carry weights like doubt, shame, and grief.  These can get in the way of our relationship with God and with one another.  But in Christ’s resurrection, we are all made new creations.  We have only to set down the burdens we carry and step into the life God has for us.  Psalm 139 reminds us that we are beloved creations of God.  Nothing we do or believe we are could ever separate us from God.  [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • How do you understand the difference between guilt and shame?
  • How is guilt helpful in teachings how to live?
  • Why is shame unhelpful?
  • What shame do you need to release to God?

Do and share:

  • Find art images that depict shame.  Journal about what you see in them.  Are their similarities?  What in the images you chose resonates with you?
  • Share your prayer request on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Easter

image: Resurrection 1,  Solomon Raj

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

-John 20:15-18

John 19:30 says it is finished.  Indeed, the reign of death is done; the great work of salvation is put in motion; the final battle is won.  But the story isn’t yet complete.  Easter marks the dawn of a new day and calls us into God’s ongoing project of resurrection.  [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Explore how each of the gospels recounts the story of Easter.  And how their understanding shapes our faith.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Who comes to the tomb first and why?
  • What is their first response?
  • What does Jesus say to them?
  • What do they do when they leave?

Do and share:

  • After you have read all four stories and answered the questions for each, consider your own response to the resurrection.  Who are you most like?  How do you respond each year to the news that Christ is risen?
  • Share why Jesus matters for your life with someone you know.  Tell us the story on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Palm Sunday

image: Entry of Christ into Jerusalem,  Wilhelm Morgner

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

-Mark 11:8-11

Mark’s telling of the entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus asks his disciples to commit larceny, tramples a lot of perfectly good cloaks, has a rather awkward scheduling conflict with Pilot’s Passover procession, sticks his head in the temple for a hot second and then goes straight back to Bethany– where he started in the first place.   There is a lot more happening in this story than a simple parade.  As usual, the work God is about is so much greater than we expect.  But there are no shortcuts to the Kindom. [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions in your own devotion time this week.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • When has a friend or family member acted differently than you expected?
  • How did you respond?  What, if anything did you learn about yourself?
  • What expectations do you have of God?
  • How do your expectations support your faith?
  • What might they blind you too?

Do and share:

  • There are no shortcuts to Easter.  This Holy Week, commit to walking through the whole week.
    • Read at least one of the appointed readings each day.  You can find them at this page from the Vanderbilt library . They also have prayers and art.
    • Join us at DPUMC for Holy Thursday and Good Friday services.  Or find Holy Week services in your area.

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Thrive

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

-Isaiah 43:16-21

The language of Isaiah 43 all indicates God’s ongoing action of salvation and renewal.  We are a part of a long story of being made new.  Even if we seem to be in the wilderness now, God is always ready with the next thing; ready to bring life into places we thought dry.  Celebrate what God is doing right now. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • When has God been active in your life in a way you didn’t immediately recognize?
  • What practices help you discern how God is moving when you need direction?
  • What of the past do you need to forget in order to embrace a new way forward?

Do and share:

  • Do a 20 min journal exercise.  On one page, spend 10 minutes listing the questions you are wrestling with right now.  On the next page, spend 10 minutes listing the way’s you’ve seen God at work in the last few months.  Compare the two lists to see if they overlap anywhere.
  • How do you want Deer Park to be different because of this church?  Share your answer on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Thrive

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:16-20

Even in the times of greatest turbulence, God remains the same.  Though means and methods might change, our call as believers and churches remains constant as well.  We thrive by making disciples of Jesus Christ.  Because where disciples are made, lives are changed. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • How focused is our church on making disciples?
  • What have you done so far this year to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
  • How could lives in our community be changed if we made 10 new disciples this year?

Do and share:

  • Consider how you could help someone else become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Write a challenge to yourself, seal it in an envelope and put away and work on it till the end of the year.  Open it on New Year’s Eve and see how you did.
  • Tell us the story of how discipleship has changed your life.  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Grow

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Gal 5:22-26

When we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we need to pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward. It is to easy to get caught up in the latest trend or recommendation for finding your best life now.  We get tempted into treating discipleship like a path to self-improvement.  Discipleship is not a method for curating a perfect life; it is the hard work or tending our garden so that God might bear good fruit through us.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What fruits come most easily for you?
  • What fruits seem like a struggle?
  • How might God be calling you to grow as a disciple?

Do and share:

  • Make a list of 3 people who you look up to for their discipleship.  Make a list of 3 people who might look up to you.  Ask God how these relationships can help you grow.
  • What kind of sacrifice are you prepared to make to further the work of DPUMC?  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way of Expectations

My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2: 5b-9

Wayfinding refers to a class of ancient arts that allowed our ancestors to navigate seemingly impossible expanses.  Today, when we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we too can pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward. Sometimes the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves.  As individual and communities, we go the way of our expectations.  God has promised great things; are we prepared to embrace them? [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What do you expect of God?
  • What do you think God expects of you?
  • How are you investing in God’s kingdom right now?

Do and share:

  • Track how you spend your time for a week.  What do you do that provides for basic necessities?  What is about leaving a legacy?  What of your time reflects your faith?
  • What do you hope for our church over the next 5 years?  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

Bonus:  Check out this graphical overview of the book of Haggai

haggai-chart

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We’ve Come

Image:  Gathering to Build the Tabernacle  by Yoram Raanan

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him,
tell of all his wonderful works.

1 Chronicles 16:8-9

For millennia, people traveled the world without Google Maps or even physical maps as we know them.  Wayfinding refers to a class of ancient arts that allowed our ancestors to navigate seemingly impossible expanses.  Today, when we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we too can pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward.  We begin by remembering all God has brought us through to reach this point.    [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Describe a time God carried you through a situation.
  • How did you celebrate that victory?
  • How have you seen God at work through DPUMC (or your faith community)?

Do and share:

  • Write a thank-you note to God for the way God has been active in your life or church.
  • Make a video testimony of something God has done for you and share it on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

[Beyond Sunday] Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto

After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them.Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying.When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”

Mark 2:1-5

Who are the people that can and will take you to the feet of Jesus when you are too tired, or hurt, or broken or distracted to go yourself?  We all need people.  More than that, we need people who will encourage, motivate, and hold us accountable.  Without real connections, we will find ourselves adrift and miserable.  God made us for community. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect how you are seeking happiness through Christ.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What relationship has had the most significant impact on your faith?
  • When you are unhappy, how do you let people help you?
  • Do you find it easy or difficult to invest in other people?  If difficult, what makes it hard?

Do and share:

  • Write a note to someone you are grateful to have in your life.
  • Share a poem or quote about relationships on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #happiness2018

 

[Beyond Sunday] Living Distracted

The tragedy is that we are indeed caught in a web of false expectations and contrived needs. Our occupations and preoccupations fill our external and internal lives to the brim. They prevent the Spirit of God from breathing freely in us and thus renewing our lives.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Making All Things New (Kindle Locations 109-111). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The modern era brought a host of solutions and devices to not only make work easier but also give us more to do in our free time than ever.  So why are rates of depression, anxiety, and dissatisfaction on the rise?  Why are mental health issues among children and teens skyrocketing? Being busy does not lead to happiness.  But focusing on meaningful work does.  Rest, and quiet do.  God did not intend for us to live our lives distracted  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect how you are seeking happiness through Christ.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • When are you in silence? (not even background noise)
  • How do you respond to being still?
  • What is your favorite distraction?  Does it always make you happy?

Do and share:

  • Notice the moments you are tempted to fill up.  Make a note every time you reach for your phone, or social media or other distraction.  At the end of the week tally how much time you spend on these things.
  • Make a list of your questions about happiness.  Share one on the Resolution: Happiness Event on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #happiness2018