Happy New Year, Church Family! I always find new beginnings exciting, whether it’s a fresh, clean sheet of paper, a new project, a new year -whatever – I love the prospect of a fresh start and seeing the “new thing” begin. For me, new beginnings mean fresh expressions of hope, challenge, and growth. It is beautiful and powerful. And God invites us continually to be made new! In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are reminded that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation.
As I have been praying for God’s heart and vision for both myself and EFUMC for 2019, I am struck by several thoughts and invitations from the Lord. The first is this: What does it look like for me to become more intimate with Jesus? How will this deeper intimacy with Jesus transform my personal discipleship? I don’t hear these words as a criticism from the Lord, but as an invitation. I hear the Lord whisper, “Come away with me…” (Song of Songs). I hear the Lord encourage, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and discern what is My will, My good and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) I hear the Lord promise, “Seek me with your whole heart and I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:13) I hear the Lord remind me, “Whatever you ask in prayer, in my name will be given to you. (Mark 11:24).
These are whispers, encouragements, promises, and reminders for all of us as individuals, but also as community – for the church – for EFUMC.
I believe God is calling us to an intentional pursuit of deeper intimacy for transformed living and discipleship. Our journey only begins when we accept Jesus. No matter how long you have been a believer, no matter how long you have been a church goer, no matter how many times you have read the bible or led a bible study – there is more of Jesus for us to know and experience. There is no “stopping point” where we finally know all there is to know. There is always more of Jesus’ love, wisdom, and grace to embrace and be transformed by. Our goal, is to look as much like Jesus as we can - to be utterly transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit so that every day we become more and more like Jesus.
That said, I have a question and a challenge for you. The question is this: How might our church and community be transformed if each of us committed to intentionally and purposefully to become more intimate, to draw closer to Jesus this year? If the thought first in our mind, that governed all our words and actions were, “does this bring me closer to Christ?”
The challenge: Join me in making 2019 a year of transformed living. I will attempt to photo journal this year by posting on Instagram with the hashtag #transformedliving2019. I invite you and encourage you to participate this way with me! Snap a picture of the moments in which you know you are purposefully drawing near to Jesus. Take a photo of those moments when you are experiencing the presence of God and being transformed. Include your friends and family. Let’s see what God does when we choose to love more deeply.
Grace and Peace