We are the aroma of ChristTo brew a great tasting cup of coffee you have to begin with spring water. You then choose the right coffee beans and grind them followed by water heated to 180-200 degrees preferably in a French Press. The combination of the beans being ground and being brewed releases a distinctive and unique aroma that can fill a house, a restaurant or a coffee shop. For many fresh brewed coffee serves as a wakeup call for the day. The anticipation of enjoying the coffee starts long before you taste the java.
As believers in Jesus Christ people should experience “the Christ aroma” as they observe our everyday interactions. In our text Paul was focused on sharing the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with everyone. How is your life producing aroma’s of love and compassion? Do the people that you interact with on a regular basis experience you as just one of the group or does your interactions leaving asking, ”Why are you so special, compassionate and caring?”

Challenge:  We should live our lives in such a way that other people receive the wake up call to follow Jesus.
Prayer God , teach me to be compassionate to everyone I meet so that they can experience the love and grace that you have already shared in my life.

William T Chaney Jr
New Church Strategist
Path 1
Discipleship Ministries, Nashville TN

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12 Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13     rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16     gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.
Joel 2:12-16

As I talk to many of my friends who are unchurched I have often been asked, “What relationship really matters to you, pastor?”

My answer is not simple but consistent,” The relationship that matters most to me is my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I am committed to following Jesus and still there are times when I am overwhelmed in my quest to live for Jesus. This wonderful relationship can be draining as I go to rehearsal, LIFE groups, committee meetings and spending time studying and in prayer.   As a result every once and a while I need to be recharged.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, lent is a time to restart and refresh your relationship with God through reconnecting with the spiritual disciplines that sustain us in this Christian journey.  Lent is a 40 day season of self-denial and an opportunity to evaluate your relationship with God.

DetoxOne spiritual discipline referenced in the scripture is fasting. Fasting is a time of cleansing the heart as well as the body.  This could include getting rid of the toxic relationships, negative attitudes and distractions. Cleansing our lives of  negative spiritual and emotional junk so that our lives are focused on hearing, following and living for Christ is the essence of fasting.

Prayer:  God, move all distractions from my life that would keep me from focusing on serving you with my whole heart.

William T Chaney Jr
New Church Strategist
Path 1

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

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A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*
February 9, 2015

One Wednesday a year, sometime in February or March, you notice someone at work, school, or elsewhere with a smudge on her forehead. It looks as if she missed a spot when washing. Then you see another who looks as though he needs to glance in the mirror. By the time you see the third, you realize it is Ash Wednesday and these passersby must have received the imposition of ashes.

This practice we use to mark the first day of Lent may seem odd. People go to church mid-week to have a cleric place dirt on their foreheads.

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Luke 4:18 (MSG)

ImageLent is a 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter where we recommit to our spiritual disciplines, repentance and fasting, and we remember the life, death and burial of Jesus, and prepare for the celebration of his resurrection. At the end of our 40-day journey, one of the great hopes is that we have realigned our lives with the life that Jesus lived.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ ministry was not his interest in the secure, affluent, popular, well educated or politically well connected in society. Jesus had a passion to dwell among and to serve people who lived beyond the boundaries, people who were without power and people who lived on the margins of society.

Jesus ministered to those who were poor, homeless, prisoners, and carrying heavy burdens. These same people in our society are often easy to see, but many times difficult to engage. This is true especially when we are consumed with our own personal agendas rather than a Kingdom agenda. When our consumer acquisitions leave no room for us to share or give anything away. When our to-do lists are so packed that we do not have any time to share with those who Jesus ministered to. When this happens, the people who are hurting and living on the margins just become a part of the landscape that we tend to ignore-unless they get in our way.

If we are realigning ourselves with the mission of Jesus during this 40-day journey toward the resurrection, we have an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the mission of serving those who Jesus served. We can commit to serving the poor who are trapped by systems and have no visible escape route. We can go to the jails and the prisons to proclaim the Good News. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world so that they may have their spiritual sight restored.

Selfishness, self centeredness and self-indulgence are the core values we experience when we have lost sense of our mission to serve those who Jesus served. Sharing unconditional love is an oxymoron in a society that teaches it is all about me. My challenge to us as we begin this journey together is to find a place to serve beyond our comfort zones, that is, if you are really willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, open my eyes to all who need to hear the Good News. Give me the words to say and the courage to speak. Give me the discipline to live out your mission with the people that others avoid, ignore and shun.

William T Chaney Jr
Infinite Grace Fellowship
West Baltimore UMC

 

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Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and refocus on the life of Christ. Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our 40 day time of preparation. I would like to invite you to join me in reconnecting with our foundational spiritual disciplines of reading the scriptures, praying, fasting, giving and journaling. The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church has produced an online devotional to engage the journey. Join us daily : http://www.instantflipbook.com/flipbooks/9ec6e33dd9/

Proverbs 6: 4-5

Don’t procrastinate— there’s no time to lose.
Run like a deer from the hunter,  fly like a bird from the trapper!
The Message

When we know that we have a task or project to complete waiting to the last minute produces an inferior product.  So how do we move beyond procrastination? We make excellence the greater priority. The challenge is “just enough to get by” is the mentality of many people.  This produces mediocrity. The pursuit of excellence is a discipline that challenges us to immediately begin projects and engage in precision planning on a personal level and organizational level.

Every workshop attendee deserves to hear the best presentation not one that is just good enough.  Every congregant deserves to hear my best sermon not one that is thrown together.  Every person attending a meeting deserves to have the best agenda to achieve the mission vision and values of the organization.

Our text focuses our attention on three things that will help us to move beyond procrastination

  1. The time is now, tomorrow will be to late
  2. Eliminate distractions, they can be costly
  3. Passionately pursuit is essential