(An Open Letter to United Methodists from Pastor Paul Lawler)
As Christ-following United Methodists, many have expressed deep concerns for the direction of our denomination for some time. This Saturday will bring positive news for our future as a denomination. Thousands will gather all over the United States for the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s Move – On Mission with God Gathering. Whatever part of the country you reside in, there are over 60 sites to choose from. It is not too late for you to sign up and attend.
Later this week, my son and I will head to East Asia with a team. We will be meeting the health needs and the spiritual needs of a rural, unreached people group.
I am truly blessed and honored to be able to go. But I am also aware that God is not asking everyone to drop everything and go to an unreached people group right this moment. Instead, he’s asking us to be used by him to minister to others we encounter in our daily routine of life.
God is calling all of us to a lifestyle of joining him where he is already at work, to co-labor with him and acknowledge that he is in constant pursuit of the lost. There is nowhere you can go that God won’t be. There is no one you could talk to whom God doesn’t already see, love, and have amazing plans for.
Words are not simply sounds – words have real power. God spoke the world into being by the power of his word (Hebrews 11:3), and we are in His image in part because of the power we have with words. Words do more than just convey information. The power of our words can actually destroy a person’s spirit, or even stir up hatred and violence. Of all the creatures on this planet only man has the ability to communicate through the spoken word. This is a powerful and unique gift that God has given us.
I grew up in a Methodist church, but did not experience the practice of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent until several years ago. I did not understand the value of observing these liturgical seasons in the life of the church. Over time, I began to realize that the seasons of the church year weave a pattern that cause us to take time to reflect and remember. They give us an opportunity to look at passages in the Scripture that we may otherwise pass over. They offer us a window into the spiritual practices from Biblical times.