Hello Brothers & Sisters,
Are you practicing the presence of God this week? That was the “Walk It Out” challenge that Pastor Kelly gave us this past Sunday at the end of the sermon, Pietism: The Way of Renewal. In the latest installment of our Streams series, I talked about how God calls us not only to live and worship out of the left side of our brain, but out of the right side as well (i.e. our emotions). The Spirit calls us to go below the surface so Christ can meet us in the innermost place. We refer to this place as our heart. This is what it means to “abide” in Jesus (John 15:5-8), and the way to be renewed in our soul.
We suggested that you spend five minutes resting in God’s presence each day this week. As the hymn “Blessed Assurance” says, “Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.” You can do this in several ways. You could try focusing on your breathing (imagine that you’re breathing in the Spirit and exhaling all that doesn’t reflect Christ in you). Focusing on your breathing means your mind is less likely to wander. You could read slowly through a verse or two of Scripture, close your eyes and envision what you’re reading (e.g. Psalm 23 – Say, “The Lord is my shepherd…” and see him in your imagination).
You could also set your phone alarm at a certain time of day and pray for a greater awareness of God’s presence in your lives. You might also want to listen to a favorite song or hymn that speaks to you—old, familiar songs might work for you, or trying a new song might be better. I have been practicing the Lord’s presence with two new Lauren Daigle songs, You Say and Remember. I encourage you to get alone in a quiet place, plug in your earphones, and allow the Lord to meet you as you make the song your own prayer to him. Give yourself permission to “feel” your own emotions and hear God’s voice.
I’m happy to report that after the sermon on Sunday some of you sent in your reflections on last week’s assignment to pray for your enemies. Here are a few responses we received:
“It is both hard and freeing.”
“When I prayed for my ‘enemies’, I immediately felt a softening.”
“I began to wonder: how many people are praying for me because I am their enemy?”
Please take a few minutes this week to let us know how practicing God’s presence has gone for you. Share your experiences with Pastor Kelly at email@example.com.
Remember, we’re not wanting just to give mental ascent to our beliefs, but also to embody them. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities throughout this series to experience a deepening of faith in your walk with Christ, and to put into practice what we confess with our mouths. In this case, we say Jesus is alive and a person that we can encounter in the power of the Holy Spirit. So, go, encounter him, church. Experience him in your head and your heart, for that’s how we truly change to become more like him. Be still and know that he is God, alive and present with you.
Finally, I want to remind you that Harvest Happening is coming up on Sunday, October 7 at 4:00 pm. If the weather cooperates this year, we will be setting up outside with games, apple cider press, good food, and live music. We’re excited to have The Eric Byrd Trio with us again for our annual fall festival. They were with us two years ago and blessed us through their music. Please consider inviting your neighbors, friends, and family. Harvest Happening is a great opportunity to reach out to the college and our community. Mark your calendars and join our church family for a fun, festive, outdoor event.
May God bless you as you practice his presence this week. See you this Sunday in worship!
Grace & Peace,
* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org