Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Stop what you’re doing and dwell on this thought for a solid minute: I’m loved by God and his love surrounds me. Close your eyes and say, “I’m loved by God and his love surrounds me.” As you slowly repeat that to yourself with your eyes closed, imagine seeing his love envelope you like a warm cloud or a lingering fog. It’s OK, there is a rich history of Christians learning to enjoy God’s presence in this way. So, give it a shot. The Spirit wants your knowledge of God to become an experience of God. So, open your heart, use a disciplined imagination, and try it.

Why did I just encourage you to do that? It’s because we were designed for a real personal connection with God and others, and without it, our thinking about God (no matter how right those thoughts may be) will not transfer into real life change. While we can be moved to some degree in our thinking of how much God loves us, what we really need is an experience of that love to shape and form our hearts and minds into being more like Christ. That’s not weird. That’s what it means to be human beings, who are also spiritual beings. It may take several tries with all the noise in our heads, but it will get easier the more you do it.

As I said on Sunday in Missional Church (3 of 6), disciples of Jesus are intentional in experiencing God in the UP (personal relationship with God), the IN (via the church community) and through the OUT (living out our faith in the world). If you missed it, check out that message and the “Triangle” visual at our website. This simple exercise above is one way to meditate on God’s love and experience his life in us. You can do this sort of thing with verses of Scripture (e.g. Psalm 23), and by internalizing other nuggets of truth about God and who you are according to Christ. If you’re not accustomed to doing it, try it and see if it doesn’t draw you closer to God.

I spoke in chapel this morning (Tuesday) at Messiah College. Before I delivered a message on The God Who Looks Like Jesus, I sat quietly in my chair before worship and centered my thoughts on God’s love for me. This does several things: (1) It allows me to hear Jesus speak to me, as his words ride the wave of my own thoughts (e.g. I’m with you, I’m for you, rely on me, etc.); (2) It allows me to experience God’s love and grace, so that I can speak and live out of his nearness to me; and (3) It puts everything into focus, calms the soul, and gives me the confidence I need to minister to others with the love I’ve experienced. 

I think you can apply this to your life and calling as well. And I encourage you to find some time in your day or during your week to practice centering yourself in this way.

Our Missio Dei series continues this Sunday with a message on Missional Leaders (4 of 6). While an unbridled, top-down leadership hasn’t helped the church in the West, the early Christians recognized God’s gift to the church in the form of servant-leaders who are missional. This leadership doesn’t long for the spotlight, but it also doesn’t shirk the calling and responsibility to be out front as an incarnational example of Christ for the church to follow. I hope to see you this Sunday as I’ll be talking about leadership, and calling forth those whom God is inviting to lead and guide the church into the future.

May you keep in step with the Spirit and stay open to what God wants for you and our church. Have a great rest of the week!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

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