Today's world is telling us we need more; a bigger house, nicer car, better job, finer clothes, etc. However rarely do these things bring us true happiness and joy. There is a power in being content with what we have and who we are. The plain, ordinary, and natural of life can be a continual reminder of what really matters to God. If we look in the scriptures we will find the counter cultural message Jesus' lived for was knowing that true faith and worth comes through his love not something that we can do, buy, or obtain by other means.
One spiritual practice from this gospel message is living a simplistic life. The pandemic has forced many individuals to stop the busyness that was running their daily lives and sit back and notice. The response has been amazing as people have noticed things they had forgotten and neglected. For some this was seeing how much they missed spending time with family. For others it was taking time to do activities they really loved not ones they were obligated to perform. There have also been many people who have found ways to tap into their spiritual lives again.
Aspects of Simplicity
In this time when we are looking at simplifying our lives or keeping it simple as life gets back to being normal again, we must assess what changes we are going to make. Here are some specific areas for you to look at.
Reassess Priorities - Look at what you really want on your plate and unload the rest. Life is too short to perform obligations that do not provide for your family or increase your happiness. Schedule your time with the most important people and responsibilities first.
Own Less - Find a balance and contentment with what you have without having to consume more. There is also a spiritual practice of sacredness in creation when we own less. The less we own the less natural material are used and non biodegradable objects created. Minimalism has made a very strong rise in our society bringing the thought process that less can actually be more.
Be Generous - Simplicity goes hand in hand with generosity. When we are able to live a simplistic life we retain further resources to give to those who need it. One beautiful way to live simpler is to intentionally doing this to increase your giving. When we keep generosity at the forefront of our minds simplicity is just a step behind.
Identify Gratefulness - Being simplistic is also about changing your mindset to be thankful for what you have. This switch allows individuals to be happy with their current state of being and understand that all things are blessing. When we focus on gratefulness we are able to be present in the moment and experience joy our lives.
Despite the frustrations of this year I hope you have found some joy in making your life a bit simpler for a while.
This week be grateful for what you have, reframe your desires, and identify what is the most important in your life.
Most people have heard the saying church is a people not a building. Well it is never more apparent than now when regular in person gatherings have been blown up by Covid-19. Despite this disruption in our lives, God is continuing to work in people and in this world. It is through this time that something new is beginning to emerge striking a fire within others on what it truly means to be disciples and live out our spiritual lives. Churches in particular will need to find and invent new ways to share the gospel. Many have realized their ministry needs to be beyond the walls of the church into the homes and phones of people in the world. Over the last few months we have seen many concepts such as live streaming, video conferencing, drive by church, and podcast sermons. Each church has to figure out what works for them and what service they can provide.
A term being thrown around is digital discipleship. Digital discipleship refers to creating followers through online digital content. This term has been around for a while but has really picked up steam in this crazy year of 2020. It really is about leveraging technology to spread the gospel to others. One big advantage of digital church is not having a set time for people to find connection and absorb content. It can happen anytime throughout the week! Of course digital discipleship is only a part of the church but in this year it has taken on greater depths of what church is. So let's look a little closer at this topic.
Where Do I Start?
If you or your church is looking for further discipleship online then ask yourself these questions provided by the blog Rookie Preacher. These questions can also help focus churches on what content to be putting together. Remember to just follow your identify, mission, message and beliefs.
1. What do I want to know about this church?
2. What are they asking me to do?
3. What next steps are in place for me to continue growing?
Sometime we ask ourselves what can we do during this time to enhance our following of Jesus. If you are having this thought check out this blog "10 Things You Can Do As A Digital Disciple" to get some ideas. If you or someone else is wanting to take some further steps in your discipleship with Community of Christ I encourage you to contact us. If you are interested in attending an online worship with Community of Christ just click here.
There are many ways for people to connect spiritually or find content that will help their discipleship online. If you are struggling figuring out where to find online content, what works for you or what your church should do here are some ideas.
Blogs - You obviously found this blog so you are familiar with this one. Blogs can be wonderful ways to find information that speaks to your heart and challenges your thoughts with different perspectives. Find a few that work for you and follow along.
Vlogs - Video blog are just like written blogs but give an accessible way to connect with your Pastor or leaders. They provide inspiring messages and can provide extra steps for people to practice throughout the week.
Online Sermons - Some churches post their sermon audios on their website while others put it on a podcast. If you like listening to theological constructions tied with storytelling find this option. The convenience of this is really a draw as you can listen to it while at the gym, in the car, on a run, or cleaning around the house.
Small Groups - Many churches have established online small groups in a video format. These groups may be a bible study, discussion group, prayer circle, or just personal connection. Small groups can be a vital part of discipleship as it provides connection and enables people to share from their own depth and experience.
Social Media - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & TikTok are some great places to find content that meets your need. It is in this arena where people can be impacted by a post and connected to a group within a few minutes.
YouTube Channel - Creating a YouTube channel where videos or online worships are posted can be an easy way for people to access your content and learn about what this church stands for. Even a few videos your website can point to is beneficial for viewers to see.
Podcasts - These can be another great way to have someone connect with your church and learn about what it stands for. Creating a short podcast about members testimonies, bible stories, or theological discussions can generate excitement and allow people to follow from a distance before getting more involved.
Fundraising Opportunities - Sharing online giving opportunities for members and friends to give especially to the local community are great ways to promote generosity and connect others to a major part of discipleship. There are multiple methods online for this to happen and with the use of social media people can learn about them fast.
In this changing time we have to find what works for us which may mean identifying online opportunities that continue to spiritually develop us and move us forward to encountering God in our lives. There are many churches producing online content and creating disciples of Jesus. Find what works for you and challenges your theological perspectives as you travel down this digital discipleship path.
Welcome Fall Weather! Nothing better than this time of year when the leaves are falling and their is a briskness in the air. Enjoy it!
This week take some time to search for online content that focuses you on your discipleship.
Judy and her husband, David, just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. Judy was born and raised in Michigan. She met David at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. The last 56 years have been lived in rural Kansas. She has her Masters in Education Degree from Emporia State University. She has taught in public schools, but is primarily a wife, mother and grandmother. David and Judy have five children, fifteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. David farms with their son and grandson.
I don’t remember a time that God was not in my life. I was raised in a Christian family. I had an older brother and a younger one. As a family, we attended church and Sunday School. I went to some summer church camps and reunions. I remember some amazing Sunday school teachers and fun flannel graph Old Testament stories. I feel close to God through music, nature, study and prayer. I enjoy reading several scripture translations as they help me understand God’s Word. The scriptures quoted here are from one of my favorite Bibles: NIV New International Version Study Bible.
At church we learned songs such as Jesus Loves Me This I Know, This Little Light of Mine, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Kum Ba Yah, I’ve Got That Joy (Down in My Heart), Jesus Loves the Little Children and later in life, This is the Day the Lord Has Made, Amazing Grace, We Are One In the Spirit, and God Forgave My Sins and many Christmas Hymns. As a child I remember singing these songs whenever I felt nervous or scared. We lived at a cottage in the summers and my 4H leader lived just down a tree lined road from us. Some nights I stayed too late and found these songs a comfort on the long walk home. Later as an adult, I served on the Burlingame School Board. I would sing hymns on my way to school board meetings. I knew I needed God’s help and comfort.
I also see God in nature. As farmers, we pay close attention to the weather. It is awesome and amazing to see the sunsets, sunrises and times in between. The power of the sun, seasons, wind, rain, etc. is awe inspiring. Watching the crops grow and reach maturity. Hopefully seeing a bountiful harvest gives us an appreciation of our wonderful world. We have been blessed to be able to travel and marvel at the expanse of the oceans, beauty of the mountains, serenest of the forests, loveliness of the prairies. I admire the flower gardens people have grown, the variety of wild flowers that grace our road sides, the loyalty pets have for their owners and pictures and stories of both. When I pick up my iPhone and marvel at the small computer inside it, and the amazing things it can do. I do not think it all came about by a big bang. I think of the intelligence and creativity that went into producing it. The same
way, nature reminds me of GOD and the intelligence and creativity that went into the creation of our world.
Through the years I have enjoyed teaching Sunday School Classes, going to Bible Study Classes, and studying the scriptures. The scriptures help with ideas on how to live life.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God.
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things."
The only problem being that I am learning how much more I need to learn. I have kept a “Thankful Journal” and enjoy rereading it. I wish I had kept it more often. I have heard of people keeping track of their prayers and how they have been answered. I feel that I have been blessed throughout my life and wish I had kept better account of my many blessings.
My days are better when I remember to begin with a prayer. As children, my brothers and I said our prayers at night, before meals and learned the Lord’s Prayer. Later in life, I spent some time online looking up how to pray. One article listed several theories. I found that the one called praying according to ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication helps keep me focused. Praising God is an important part of worship. Confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness helps keep us humble. Being thankful for our many blessings keeps us grounded. It’s important to end with our wishes – the things we are praying for such as peace, comfort, guidance, help, etc.
When taking a test or writing a paper for school, I often offered a prayer for help. Raising five children, I found myself in prayer many times and very thankful for the comfort and peace I received. When in a stressful situation, I need to say a quick prayer and remember that God is always with me.
“...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:20
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:23
Troubles and difficulties lead me to remember.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
At times, I tell myself
“Be Still, and know that I am God...” Psalms 46:10
It helps me calm down.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
- Psalms 37:7
Often I have taken comfort in the phrase
“Get behind me, Satan!” - Matt 16:23
adding “I belong to Jesus”.
In this pandemic, I find myself often enjoying uplifting music, seeking comfort from nature, studying the scriptures and praying. I have never lived in a world like this. At times, I have had to take a break from watching the news and following Facebook. I am thankful for God’s peace that is available to all of us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- John 16:23
I need to remember that God is in control. I would hate to face a day without God.
A big thanks to Judy for sharing her perspective on how God impacts her life and what it has meant to her.
This week answer the question where and how do you notice God in your life?
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.