Christian Perfection

John Wesley preached over and estimated 40,000 times in raising up the Methodist movement. At the end of his life, he wrote the following,

This doctrine (of full sanctification) is the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up.” 

Wesley taught Methodism as holiness of heart and life or true scriptural Christianity.  Christian Perfection or Full Sanctification became a defining doctrine which set apart the Methodists.  He defined this Christian Perfection most full as:

In one view, it is purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God. It is the giving God all our heart; it is one desire and design ruling all our tempers. It is the devoting, not a part, but all our soul, body, and substance to God. In another view, it is all the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked. It is the circumcision of the heart from all filthiness, all inward as well as outward pollution. It is a renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, the full likeness of Him that created it. In yet another, it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.

 

Reflecting on his preaching of Christian Perfection, Wesley goes on,

“In the same sermon I observed, “`Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.’ It is not only `the first and great’ command, but all the commandments in one. `Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,’ they are all comprised in this one word, love. In this is perfection, and glory, and happiness: The royal law of heaven and earth is this, `Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ The one perfect good shall be your one ultimate end. One thing shall ye desire for its own sake, — the fruition of Him who is all in all. One happiness shall ye propose to your souls, even an union with Him that made them, the having `fellowship with the Father and the Son,’ the being `joined to the Lord in one spirit.’ One design ye are to pursue to the end of time, — the enjoyment of God in time and in eternity. Desire other things so far as they tend to this; love the creature, as it leads to the Creator. But in every step you take, be this the glorious point that terminates your view. Let every affection, and thought and word, and action, be subordinate to this. Whatever ye desire or fear, whatever ye seek or shun, whatever ye think speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God, the sole end, as well as source, of your being.” (Ibid., pp. 207, 208.)

 

I concluded in these words: “Here is the sum of the perfect law, the circumcision of the heart. Let the spirit return to God that gave it, with the whole train of its affections. — Other sacrifices from us he would not, but the living sacrifice of the heart hath he chosen. Let it be continually offered up to God through Christ, in flames of holy love. And let no creature be suffered to share with him; for he is a jealous God. His throne will he not divide with another; he will reign without a rival. Be no design, no desire admitted there, but what has Him for its ultimate object.

 

This is the way wherein those children of God once walked, who being dead still speak to us: `Desire not to live but to praise his name; let all your thoughts, words, and works tend to his glory.’ `Let your soul be filled with so entire a love to Him that you may love nothing but for his sake.’ `Have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to his glory in all you actions.’

 

Is your soul so filled with love?  Have we thought of God’s glory in all our actions?  What would our world, our community, our homes look like if we had such purity of intention?

 

May we remember who we are and Whose we are.  Lord, hear our prayers…

 

Wesley’s full sermon – The Circumcision of the Heart

Wesley’s  – A Plain Account of Christian Perfection


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A Tale of Hope

The cool air catches me off guard when I step out the front door each morning.  A thoughtless breath becomes a gasp as the crisp air shocks my lungs.  I should be prepared.  I told my children to put on a jacket.  I knew the forecast, however, the memory of summer’s heat lingers long.

 

Still the coolness calls us back outside from our conditioned air for playful evenings and longer conversations around the fire.  The turning of the trees beckons our boots to trod again the trails of the woods.  Hiking allows our family to be together to see the glory of God’s creation and remember similar explorations of years gone by.  It is good to gather inside.  It is also good to have the space be in adventure together outside.

 

I love how unexpected moments arise during hikes.  Vistas on the way to the peak.  Animal encounters which stop our tracks. Stories and conversations which could not be had in cramped quarters. All blessings which would not occur if we did not commit to the journey, make preparations of clothing, food, & water, and go.  The journey between these moments might take hours and be hard, but stitched together they hold a thread of the tale we tell about our lives. 

 

I believe it is such a tale of hope that Paul speaks to in 1 Thessalonians, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul had been run out of Thessalonica and had just heard from others reporting back from the community.  Paul had committed to a journey, was blessed by his unexpected time along the way, underwent uncertain, hard times, and now is relaying his hope of how it is all coming together while his ultimate destination still lays ahead.

 

Friends, I pray you find such hope in this season. The air shifts and new opportunities arise.  Yet the memory and reality of our arduous journey through the pandemic continues. I am thankful you continue to share God’s love and follow Jesus in this season. Your everyday labor of love is making a difference in our neighborhoods, community, and world.  Our hope will endure in Jesus as we continue this journey together.  There are such wonderful stories ahead.

 

May God’s blessings find your path this day and may His love surround you.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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Red

The color of passion and bull taunts, cherry flavored t-shirt stains and fall apples – now has become a somber mark for our county.  This past Wednesday, Wayne County reached red on Indiana’s Coronavirus Map, the highest advisory level attainable.  This advisory level translates to a hospital which is nearly maxed out, more Covid cases than we have had at any other time, and more tragic deaths.

We are now asking you and any who enters Central to wear a mask at ALL times throughout the building.  We are asking any who are sick or might be sick to stay home on Sunday morning and join via our livestream (found here on our webpage or on our Facebook page).  We will continue this for at least the next 2 weeks (until we have 2 straight weeks of being below red). We can do this to create gracious space in these hard times.

We are asking for prayer, constant prayer for the nurses, support staff, doctors, frontline workers…for the patients, the sick, the families, the isolated…for all of Wayne County and the world.  We are still fighting this all together.  If you or anyone you know is still unvaccinated, we will again be hosting the mobile vaccination unit at Noon this Sunday.

Let us remember that our call to follow Jesus is one which often brings us to love our neighbor in ways which where hitherto unimagined. Let us remember also how red points to that Holy Spirit fire which sustains in the unknown. Let us remember Jesus, red on the cross, who taught us true love bleeds.  Let us remember John’s words as we wrestle with the unknown, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Let us have wisdom to walk in this light in this season.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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Devotional on Godliness

Passages from the Bible with references to running:

Isaiah 40:31 “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.”

Hebrews 12: 1-2 “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Godliness from Paul’s letter to Timothy
1Timothy 4: 7-8
“… train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.“

The dictionary defines godliness as “being devout, denoting the piety which is characterized by a Godward focus, does that which is pleasing to him.“ To be godly involves keeping our focus on God, and seeking to do what is pleasing to him. But godliness doesn’t just happen. Paul tells Timothy to train himself to be godly. It takes work. And it requires that we let go of things that would hinder that training.

Many activities are promoted as being “good for us.“ But training in godliness is unlike any of them. No matter how many miles we run or bike in this life, it has no value in the life to come. But godliness does. Godliness trains not just the physical body, but the spirit as well. That training will have value for eternity and that makes training in godliness even more important. It is training that will make a lasting difference, even after one’s physical body is destroyed.

Training in godliness involves prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. But it also involves choosing to make good decisions in life. Choosing to do what pleases God rather than self. Working to develop a more intimate relationship with Christ. Living in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction. Training is hard, and involves self sacrifice, but it is well worth it in the long run.

(1 Timothy4:7-8 in The Message: “Exercise daily in God. No spiritual flabbiness. Workouts in the gym are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so making you fit both today and forever.”)
 
Written by Eileen Cravens

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A Note from Pastor Joe

 
Dear Central,
 
This week we had our highest single day coronavirus case load.  Our prayers go out to our medical workers, support staff, teachers, factory workers, custodians, childcare workers, and all those who continue to go out to keep our world moving.  Prayers for all of you as you continue to navigate decisions, movements, gatherings – only now again with the pandemic again coming on strong. Again the psalms give us language for such a time as this, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!”
 
The vaccination clinic we hosted had 27 people vaccinated last week! Let us further do our part this coming Sunday to make sure we create space for all to rest and worship.  We ask you to mask this coming Sunday.  We will again be placing dividers in the pews to help us with distancing.  We will have further opportunities to love our neighbor during worship.  We will be taking up an offering to come alongside our neighborhood school – Vaile.  They lost a grant which provided snacks for all of their students and we have been asked to help out.  Our prayers continue with the Hebrews, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
 
I know many of us have much weighing us down, but God is not finished yet.  There are many days ahead to carry Jesus to our fellow sinners.  There are many days ahead to rejoice in God’s love as the light pierces the darkness.  There are many days ahead to take everything to God in prayer.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 
May we all find that peace.  Keep on shining your light Central.
 
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Joseph

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Coronavirus and Central

Dear Central Family, 

Thank you for being so gracious this past year as we have wrestled with the pandemic. Like Esther, we may not like what has come up in our time, but Central has responded for such a time as this. Time and time again you loved your neighbors by creating the gracious space necessary for us to continue to operate.

The numbers on the renewed spread of the coronavirus are saddening. The Delta variant is 2-4 times more contagious than what we encountered prior. Our numbers in Wayne County are growing exponentially. Let us do our part in such a time as this. Please stay home if you in any way think you might be sick. Here are 3 additional ways Central can fight in this season.

  • Do Not Fear – Our God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Though the numbers are rising, 99.99% of those vaccinated have not had a case resulting in hospitalization or death. Vaccination clinics are still available regularly and we will be hosting one on August 22nd and September 12th.
  • Masking –  Masking has been proven to mitigate the spread of many illnesses including the coronavirus.  We ask you to consider wearing a mask while moving around the building and singing. If our county goes to orange or red on the coronavirus.in.gov website, we will be asking all to wear a mask at all times until numbers decrease for 7 days or we go back to yellow.
  • Do not Judge – There are reasons people mask and vaccinate or do not mask or get vaccinated. Chronic Respiratory issues, desire to see people face to face, following recommendations, complications from vaccines, etc. Please listen well to those in our community who may act differently so we may all love alike.

 

Let us hold this tension. There are disciples of Jesus to be made. Let us love our neighbors in our every action without condemnation. We can find a way to fight the virus and still love well in our community together.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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A Covid Update

Dear Central, my heart breaks looking at the news from around the world as the coronavirus has again surged forth. The Delta variant has wreaked havoc around the world and has recently arrived in our community.  The latest data show there are some break through cases (infections of those vaccinated) and that some of those infected and vaccinated can still spread the virus to others.  The CDC has again changed its recommendation back to wearing masks to combat this latest surge.  Still, we in Wayne County remain in the blue per Indiana’s Coronavirus website.  We pray this remains to be the case.

 

For now, we are not requiring masks to be on for worship.  We invite you to consider wearing a mask as you feel led.  If you have any symptoms, please take advantage of our livestream on Facebook and rest at home for worship.  If you have not yet been vaccinated, please consider attending one of the upcoming mobile clinics we are hosting on August 22 and September 12. 

 

I also ask respect for each other’s choices in this as we are all in this together.  We will continue to monitor this situation, so what we do this week may change next week. 

 

We are blessed to have people in our church who think differently in these matters and are trying to minister to the broadest spectrum while giving people the dignity of their own responsibility.  I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to the church of Rome, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

 

Let us continue in prayer for our world.  This is a hard time on top of over 16 months of a hard season. We are in this together, and by God’s grace, we will get through it.

In Christ,

Joseph


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The Truth Will Set You Free

Children have great imaginations. For years our son would retreat to his imaginary castle when emotions ran high. We loved the stories and imaginative space. We have not loved the ways children sometimes use this imagination to pass off imagined stories as truth.
 
Usually, some gaping hole in the tale reveals the mismatch between what happened and what was said.  If only the tales stopped then, what a world we would live in. For now, we are often tangled in a web of adult fancying.
 
Still, we have a power on our side.  Truth has this stubborn tendency to make itself known over time.  It always coheres together with other truths.  It always corresponds to reality.  Sometimes it only needs some way to be brought to the light.
 
That best light can be found in God’s word as a lamp unto our feet as we dance through life.  Or as John 8:32-33 puts it, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
May we all be so free to be really real this day.
 
Shalom,
Pastor Joseph

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