First Steps – January 9, 2023

Dr. Henry Morrison was the founder of Asbury Seminary (one of my alma maters).  He was a visionary, dynamic preacher, and believed in the theological training of young ministers.  Equally as effective was his wife, Elizabeth. She walked step-by-step with him in the planning and implementation of ATS.  A skillful and avid writer, she became the Associate Editor of the Herald until her death in 1945.  

She would often write, “the success which counts, counts for this world and that which is to come, is being and doing what God sent us here to be and do. When we fail to get into the channel of God’s ordering we are out of the way of true and abiding success.” Two things stick out to me about this quote.  First, the image of the channel of God’s ordering. On a recent vacation, I witnessed little boys body surf as waves crashed to the shore.  The ones who could ride the waves all the way to the shoreline were able to harness the momentum of the wave.  They were in the channel of the wave—the sweet spot.  The boys that couldn’t harness the power of the wave faltered a few feet after take-off. Spiritually speaking, when we harness the power of God’s Spirit in our lives, we live in the channel.  The energy and force of God’s Spirit guides us, gives us power to live differently in the world—to live in the channel of God’s ordering.  

Second, success is valued differently for the follower of Jesus.  Perhaps the prime example of a different value system is The Beatitudes (Matthew 5).  In his sermon, Jesus depicted a system that is counter-cultural to his and our world.  Whereas strength, wealth, prestige, beauty, and power are valued by our surrounding society, the Kingdom of God’s values are different.  In that kingdom, humility, empathy, authenticity, obedience, and peace are the goals. Followers of God are to strive for that type of success.  

Aunt Bettie’s words still ring true today.  Live in the channel of God’s ordering and strive for success that brings glory to God.  I encourage you to set your course in that direction and may God bless you.

 This Week’s Readings:
*Monday – Luke 16
*Tuesday – Luke 17
*Wednesday – Luke 18
*Thursday – Luke 19
*Friday – Luke 20

Prayer Requests:
*Continued blessings in the New Year 2023.
*Heal those who are sick and protect those who are not.
*Comfort those who are grieving and in distress.
*Wisdom for our leaders as they navigate through uncertain times.
*Guidance for those seeking to find their way.
*Continued Growth Inside and Outside the Walls of St. Paul UMC.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6