We invite you to join us as we explore some strategies to engage our lives anew.  The outlines below come from Pastor Matt's messages about Developing Healthy Habits for Life.  Feel free to refresh yourself on the messages, get caught up, and prepare for the coming weeks!

We invite you to listen to the messages here.

October 5, 2014--Developing A Healthy Habit of Giving

Five Keys to Developing an Attitude of Giving

1.       Understand everything we have comes from God--we are only stewards of what God has already given us.  The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1).  We don't own our lives and even the things we have don't belong to us.  When we understand that we are just stewards of things, it's easier to release them and give them back to the Lord--the source of our blessings.

2.       Jesus said, “We can’t serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).  We will love God or love something else.  Jesus is referring to money, or wealth, in his statement and the same is true today.  If we love God above all things, then we must be willing to relinquish our grasp on our wealth.  Let us trust God to provide for our every need, trusting Him to give us all that our lives require.

3.       Set a Goal Amount to give away.  The Bible teaches us to tithe, which is ten percent of our income.  Factor what your income is and tithe it back to God's kingdom.  With that benchmark, examine your bank statements and giving records to see if you're meeting that threshold.  If you are not, set a plan in place to tithe to the Lord.  If you are making your tithes, do you feel the Lord calling you to trust Him with more?

4.       Live within your means.  Our society has been reeling since too many of us, if not most of us, have been living above our means.  Being a good steward means living within our means--respecting our income levels, building up savings, and not overspending.  One of the best ways to know where your money goes is to develop a budget.  Track your income and your expenses and only use the excess income you have to make special purchases.  Develop a plan to get out of debt and continue to trust God to guide your family's finances.

5.       Trust God to take care of you.  God loves you and every aspect of your life.  Jesus instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added to our lives (Matthew 6:33); He also asks us not to worry about our lives--what we will eat, where we will sleep, or what we will wear (Matthew 6:25).  He shares this with us because we are in the hands of God.  God will take care of us and will see to our every need.  When we tithe and give to the Lord, he honors our gifts and promises to take care of us.  He is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him, for this let us all praise Him!

September 28--Developing An Attitude of Service

Four Keys to Developing an Attitude of Service

1.       Don’t Become “Me”-centric—Don’t allow your life to totally revolve around yourself.  It’s not all about you. Serving is a great reminder of how other folks need you, can benefit from you, and how you can see the world with a new perspective.  Even serve without expecting anything in return and see how God blesses you and others!

2.       Follow Your Heart and Offer Your Gifts—God has blessed you with unique talents and gifts.  You have special callings and talents that you can use to love others.  Find an opportunity in the community or church to serve.  Giving of your special gifts allows you to use them for what they designed to do!

3.       Don’t Over Commit—Don’t try to do everything.  If each of us served in our own ways, we would be able to accomplish so much more than if one of us tried to do it all. Just do your part and allow God to use you.  Remember, you’re needed at home and in the office as much as you are in the community.

4.       Remember, You Aren’t Serving Alone—God goes with you, so you aren’t ever sent into the world of your own power.  God will give you the words to say, the strength to serve, the wisdom to discern, and the ability to love the way He does.  Allow your service to be a worshipful offering to God!


September 14--Developing Healthy Relationships

Five Keys to Developing Healthy Relationships

1.       Feed the Relationships--You have to spend time developing your relationships.  They just don't blossom and grow because you want them to do so.  You must spend time investing in their development.  Go out on dates, spend quality time with them, find ways to experience unique occasions together.

2.       Expect Imperfections--None of us are perfect, so we shouldn't expect others to be perfect.  If we balance our expectations and allow for mistakes, we can find ways to embody grace.  When others around us goof up and we've expected it, then we aren't as shocked by it.  Expecting imperfections allows us to forgive and be authentic with those around us.

3.       Respect, Respect, Respect--You must know and practice that you are special.  You deserve respect and you owe others respect. No one needs to be manipulated or coerced into doing anything against their will--that's not intimacy in relationships.  Trust is grounded upon respect, and every relationship must be grounded in respect, truth, and integrity.

4.       Own Your Perspective--You have your unique perspective and each relationship requires it.  Assert yourself and allow yourself to have a voice.  Allow for honest engagement and conversation.  Reach consensus and work together but know that you have a voice and your opinion does matter.

5.       Share Sacred Space--Find ways to incorporate God in your relationships.  Allow the time you spend in your relationships to be an act of worship.  Find ways to walk with one another and with God.


September 7--Developing a Healthy, Active Lifestyle

Developing Active Habits for Life

  1. Get regular check-ups from your doctor--Helping prevent illness is easier than treating it.  But, early detection also helps to save lives.  Men need to have their routine physicals as well as women.  Don't put off having the regular check ups just because you may feel healthy now.
  2. Set Goals for Activity (short term and long term)--Having a long term goal (like running a 10K, riding 25 miles, hiking the Appalachian Trail) are great carrots for us to strive to attain, but also incorporate smaller goals so you can really gain a sense of accomplishment as you go. 
  3. Plan to change your routine incrementally--Don't change everything in your routine at one time.  Make small adjustments here and there.  Perhaps you substitute a healthy side for a less-healthy side at a meal three times per week.  Or, maybe you can take the stairs instead of the elevator each Friday.  Over time, you will see great dividends, especially as you multiply changes.  
  4. Do something active daily--Each day is a new way to become active.  Try to incorporate something active daily.  Take a walk around the block, park further away from the stores, take the stairs, march in place during commercials, etc.  Be creative and be active!
  5. Have an accountability partner--There are others around you that have similar goals.  Seek them out and become a team to accomplish your goals. Search the larger community to find classes, nature walks, or other areas of interest that will keep your attention and your dedication going.
  6. Offer your activity as an act of worship--Allow what you are doing to be an act of worship. Give God glory and magnify His name as you incorporate some new elements into your life.  God will be celebrating with you as you complete your goals!

August 31--Developing a Healthy Habit of Prayer

Four Keys to a Healthy Habit of Prayer

  1. Offer prayer from the heart--Don't worry about having the right formula for your prayer.  Just be real and authentic and allow the spirit of God that lives within you to give voice.  The Lord already knows your heart, so you don't have to craft the perfect prayer. 
  2. Say “Amen” sparingly--Pray Continuously! - I Thessalonians 5:17; Continue to offer prayer as you go throughout your day. Prayers shouldn't be offered just at meals, at bedtimes, or in the mornings.  Prayers should continually spring up from our hearts.  Try engaging in conversations throughout the day with God so that you never really close in prayer.  Instead, you are always open in your communications.
  3. Don’t do all the talking--Make sure you listen as much as you talk.  Too often, we get so wrapped up in what we have on our minds that we don't even consider listening to God.  Prayer can also be shared through a variety of mediums--including painting, sculpting, gardening, etc.  Try and find a way to connect with God in prayer and allow your actions to be an offering of prayer.
  4. Keep a prayer journal--See how the Lord moves as you track your prayers, prayer requests, and charges from God.  See how good He is as he answers prayers.  Patiently, you can see His movement, presence, and guidance throughout our lives.

August 24--Developing a Healthy Habit of Scripture Reading