Dear Church

This past Sunday morning we began to look at the personalized messages the risen Christ addressed to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor through his prophet John. We will finish looking at these message next Sunday but in the meantime I would like to recommend a couple of spiritual exercises to help you submit to the loving scrutiny of our risen lord as he prepares us for endurance and victory in the spiritual battles we face day in and day out.
1.  Balancing love and orthodoxy
Both the church at Ephesus and the church at Pergamum struggled to maintain the delicate and difficult balance between love and orthodoxy. This balance is especially critical in the life of the church because our enemy loves to create false dichotomies (e.g. I can either be loving or committed to the truth of Scripture but not both) and then to push us into one of two ditches in order to wreck our spiritual lives and to ruin our effectiveness as witnesses. To guard against this, you might try writing down in your journal this week one of your core beliefs, a core Christian doctrine that you believe is especially important for your fidelity to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Write down one for each day of this week and include a relevant Scripture as your basis. Then, next to that core belief, write down at least one practical way to live out or express that core belief in a way that is recognizably loving to your friends and neighbors. Be prayerful as you work through this exercise, seeking the Spirit’s guidance. By the end of the week you should have some excellent marching orders based on a deliberate effort to connect orthodoxy and love! You’re ready to get to work.
2.  A Letter to WestRidge
Put yourself in John’s shoes for a minute and pretend that the risen Christ has appeared to you and has asked you to write a letter to WestRidge. This letter never need be seen by anyone other than yourself and God so don’t be afraid to be completely candid and honest. After praying for wisdom and insight, write down whatever comes to mind as you contemplate how Christ might assess our church. Begin, as do the messages in Revelation 2 and 3, with commendations. Focus first on WestRidge’s strengths. What do we do well? What about our church do you think is especially pleasing to Christ? Then turn your attention to areas where we need growth and correction. What or who are we neglecting? With what sins are we struggling as a church family? Where are we vulnerable? What weaknesses do we need to attend to in order to prevent future spiritual failures? After writing these down, pray, asking God what you personally can do to support, continue, and grow our church’s strengths while at the same time eliminating sins, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses. The focus here MUST be on what YOU can do to encourage positive change in our church rather than on what others SHOULD or SHOULD NOT do. The place to begin making the necessary changes in our church is with ourselves, with self-inspection and introspection regarding the role the Spirit is asking us to play in WestRidge’s growth and outreach.
Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Your brother in Christ and fellow disciple,
Kevin Youngblood

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