“My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:2-5)
With all of the noise and questions that have been swirling around us, I have been thinking a lot about wisdom lately. This passage from James ends by promising that God will give wisdom to those who ask, which sounds almost too good to be true! If we read the first two verses, we realize that this wisdom comes when we are fully mature and complete- what John Wesley described as Christian perfection. He said that Christian perfection, or being transformed fully into the love of God, is the goal of the Christian faith. There is no other possible outcome if we choose to live the way Jesus taught.
But James reminds us that full maturity and wisdom, that Christian perfection that Wesley spoke about, comes at a price. First our faith is tested and refined by the experiences we have in life. And then we develop an endurance. If this sounds like good news, consider this: Why do you need endurance? Because these tests are typically not one-time events that leave us unchanged as things return quickly to normal. No, testing of our faith becomes the new normal. It changes who we are. And our newfound endurance helps us to continue living in faith.
This is exactly what I’ve been sharing with you through the sermon series we are in right now titled “Life More Abundant.” In order to have the abundant life that Jesus promised, we do have to develop an endurance of faith and we must allow that endurance to shape who we are as children of God. Only after all these things can we truly have a mature and healthy life of faith.
It is my prayer that you are continuing to grow and mature in your faith during this time of disorientation. I hope that the sermons are helping you to more deeply pursue the heart of God. This week, the sermon is about how we can grow in our faith after experiencing great loss. We’ll be looking at the story of Job, and about what Job’s story has to teach us about our own lives today. It is my hope that you will not only join us, but invite someone that you know who has experienced a lot of loss in their life to watch the sermon at their home as well. This pandemic has provided a number of opportunities for inviting others to church and to grow in faith!
One more thing from me this week. Thank you for completing the congregational survey each week. Your answers to this survey will continue to inform our Board and staff as we determine what our congregation needs at this time. It’s been a big help in making difficult decisions! You can fill out this week’s survey on a smart phone by texting VDIM to 90888 or on your computer by CLICKING HERE. If you have a problem completing the survey by on of these methods, try the other!
Blessings in the wilderness,
Pastor Andy Blacksher
By our Prayers…
Please remember the following people and situations in your prayers this week:
The Beale Family – At the passing of Kelly Beale. Kelly was a faithful member of Faithbridge. Cards of care and condolence can be sent to her brother, Michael at 28290 Holt Rd., Rocky Mount, MO 65072.
Steve Brown – He is hospitalized in Columbia as they treat him for a blood clot on the brain, and several broken bones. He is now out of ICU and in stable condition. Please pray for Jayne, his family, and the doctors as they decide on the appropriate treatments.
Christy McField – Debbie Geasley’s sister-in-law who has breast cancer
Mary Jo Ware – A friend of Elaine and Bill Griglione is in Louisiana undergoing chemotherapy for Pancreatic cancer.
(To be included in this list, please reply to this email or contact the church office.)
Connect, Serve, & Grow
The bag of face masks is no longer hanging from the door, but there are some still available. If you need a face mask, please contact Carol Hudson at (573) 480-1123.