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Welcome to the family

I remember it like it was yesterday, the night I first believed. I was twelve years old, and I was with a youth group on a mission trip into the north Georgia mountains. At night, we stayed in the dorm of a local college, and that’s where I was when it happened. I was standing in a dorm room looking out the window onto a huge, old oak tree. And as if it was spoken into my life, I suddenly realized that tree was no mistake. It was there on purpose, created by a perfect and loving God who was and is in control of our world. Just like Paul, I felt as if scales had fallen from my eyes and suddenly the stories I’d heard since childhood were living words. I trusted in God as my creator – and as the creator of all life. I trusted the words of the Bible, which told me that God had sent a Son into his creation to repair it. I trusted in the idea that God wanted a relationship with me so much that he sent his son to die so that I might live through Him. It was all real, and I believed.

Maybe your experience was something like mine – a moment when you suddenly saw God as he really is. Or maybe for you it has been a slow unfolding of reality as you’ve heard sermons, songs and experiences, each one building something into your life. Both experiences are equally valid, and both will get you right where God wants you – on the path of salvation.

A choice to follow Jesus is a gift to God. And what a gift he is giving you, by his promise to call forth your greatness. He does want to make you great!

John Wesley was someone who really got how to talk about the work God wants to do in us. Wesley lived as a pastor and preacher in 18th-century England. He believed the Church was dead in its religion – stuck in rituals that really didn’t have meaning any more for the people. Wesley believed that unless we’re filled with the Holy Spirit we won’t get the message of Jesus, much less live it. Preaching that message, he managed to get kicked out of every church in England. Once he ran out of buildings to preach in, he said, “The world is my parish!” and he began to preach out in open fields to thousands of people who were hungry to know the real Jesus. His practical theology has helped millions of people understand how God works in our lives to bring about salvation and sanctification (don’t worry … that’s a word we’ll get to in another blog).

It isn’t easy to change old habits or take up new ones. Becoming a whole new kind of person – which is what Jesus calls us to – takes longer and costs more than any of us count on. It also brings more joy and more love than any other adventure. I want you to know as you make the journey, I’m pulling for you.

Welcome to the family.