Hello Brothers & Sisters,
What did you decide to give up this week? This past Sunday we looked at Wesleyanism: The Way of Holiness (4 of 6) in our Streams series. At the end of the message, Pastor Kelly challenged us to “walk it out” by doing a mini-fast and giving up something we want. It could be a certain food, snack, or drink you have every day. It might be intentionally not watching the news in the evening. It could also be cutting back on the time you spend on your smart phone. Whatever it is, whenever you feel the desire to have those things, we’re asking you to deny yourself and say, “God, you are enough.”
What am I doing? I’ve decided to leave my smart phone on the other side of the room and out of sight for most of my evenings at home. So, what are you doing to embody the message about holiness? Remember, holiness involves sustained attention to the heart. Notice any compulsive behavior? Any obsessions or addictions? Is there something you can’t seem to live without? If you’re not sure, ask your parent, your spouse, or a friend. They might be able to help you. And then consider what is going on in your heart. Once you’ve identified the area of need, ask God to meet you there.
As I said in the message last Sunday, fasting is something we have a hard time doing as Americans. You see, the spirit of the age today would have us believe that getting what we want is the greatest good, and that denying ourselves those things that bring us pleasure somehow violates or threatens who we are. But isn’t that the same deception that the serpent used against Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They turned from believing that God was enough to satisfy their curiosity and deepest longings, and they instead tried to receive life by indulging themselves on what would only bring them temporary pleasure. Of course, the pleasure quickly led to a feeling of emptiness and an acute awareness of being distant from God. Clearly, we’re not better for getting everything we want.
When Jesus says to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him… he intends for us to do it in that order. That’s the way discipleship works. That’s how we come to experience God’s peace and joy. We can’t follow Jesus without learning to deny things that we desire, be they good things or bad things. Jesus taught us that self-denial is the way you discover a deeper life. For it’s in denying your own desires that God is able to show you more of his great love for us, and of our great need for him. So, I encourage you to let the Spirit guide you to those areas in your life that God wants to fill with more of himself.
This coming Sunday we will look at our final stream, Evangelicalism: The Way of Passion (5 of 6). As many of you know, this stream will need to be unpacked more than the others. It is the most recent stream within the BIC, being with us for almost 70 years now. I hope you can join us in worship this weekend. I look forward to sharing how I believe we can best synthesize evangelicalism with our other historic streams, and be the difference the world needs to see in the church today.
Finally, don’t forget that this Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm is our annual fall festival, Harvest Happening. Come and join us for live music (Eric Byrd Trio), food, fun, and fellowship! We will have games for children, youth, and adults. There will be a bounce house for the kids. We will also be running the apple cider press. We will have quite a few hay bales, as well as some tables and chairs, but we’re encouraging you to bring your personal lawn chairs this year. We plan to be outside on the lawn facing the college, weather permitting. Please invite your family, friends, and neighbors. We desire that this event be a place of intersecting with the college and our community.
Have a great week! See you in worship on Sunday.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. We have received word that the road construction at the intersection of Lisburn Rd and Grantham Rd is now complete! The detour signs are removed and the new roundabout is open for traffic. If you’ve never used a roundabout, or you need a reminder on how it works, please watch this video. Drive safely my friends.
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