Summer is already here and by the time you get this News-Linc in your hands, you’ll be getting ready for (or already celebrated) the Fourth of July. We thank God for the freedoms we enjoy in our country and gratefully remember men and women who have died defending our freedoms. Summer also marks the end of a school year and is a time to thank God for all our students, teachers, and staff who have successfully completed another school year, especially in the midst of a challenging year.
Consider this question: If you were to describe the condition of your spiritual health and the spiritual well being of our church family here at Lincoln Park UMC, what would you say?
As a pastor, I’ve often wondered and prayed over the spiritual condition of my flock. I’m together with folks on Sunday mornings, for evening meetings, and for a small weekly Bible study, but I’ve often wondered about the spiritual health of my congregations throughout the week.
Do they have a vital relationship with God? Do they start and end each day with prayer? Do they read their Bible or spend a few moments each day meditating upon The Upper Room or The Daily Bread? Are they aware of the grace of God in their lives? Do they seek to love their neighbor, family members, co-workers, and strangers as Jesus loves them? Do they talk about their faith with others? Are they going on to be “perfected in love?”
Standing at the front door of the narthex shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries as members of my flock head out the front door and into the world to raise families, work, and pay bills, looking in their eyes, I have often wondered How is it with their soul?
In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul recognized how easy it is to become distracted by the cares of the world and to lose sight of our soul’s aim, which (according to the Westminster Confession) is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” So he warns us, Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you might discern what is the will of God-what is good, acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
In a world of distractions and competing claims upon our time and allegiance, we are constantly in need of the renewing of our mind — which is, of course, the work of the Holy Spirit, working from the inside out. To this end, this fall we’ll take on, as a congregation, a short-term spiritual growth campaign entitled Transformed: How God Changes Us.
If, like me, you had to pause for several moments to contemplate the condition of your spiritual health and the spiritual health of our church, I take this as telling: There is still work to be done, a growing in grace that requires our full attention.