"Italics from Devotional Classics, by Richard Foster (in my opinion, one of the best devotionals out there, one from which every level of this walk can glean).
Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) Francois was a prominent member of the court of Louis XIV, serving as the tutor of the duke of Burgundy. A man of high esteem in the church, Fenelon was appointed archbishop of Cambrai in 1695. Fenelon corresponded with many prominent figures of his day, serving as their spiritual director. His letters were compiled and published for the edification of others. His major theme is complete love of God. (This is a portion from the posted devotional, EXCERPTS FROM CHRISTIAN PERFECTION"
"Christian perfection is not so severe, tiresome, and constraining as we think. It asks us to be God's from the bottom of our hearts. And since we thus are God's, everything that we do for him is easy. Those who are God's are always glad, when they are not divided, because they only want what God wants and want to do for him all that he wishes. They divest themselves of everything, and in this divesting find a hundredfold return. Peace of conscience, liberty of heart, the sweetness abandoning ourselves in the hands of God, the joy of always seeing the light grow in our hearts, finally, freedom from the fears and insatiable desires of the times, multiply a hundredfold the happiness which true children of God possess in the midst of their crosses, if they are faithful. So let us scorn earthly things, to be wholly God's. I am not saying that we should leave them absolutely, because when we are already living an honest and regulated life, we only need to change our heart's depth in loving, and we shall do nearly the same things which we were doing. For God does not reverse the conditions of his people, nor the responsibilities which he himself has given them, but we, to serve God, do what we were doing to serve and please the world and to satisfy ourselves. There would be only this difference, that instead of being devoured by our pride, by our overbearing passions, and by the malicious criticism of the world, we shall act instead with liberty, courage, and hope in God. Confidence will animate us. The love of God, which will make us conscious of God's love for us, will give us wings to fly on his way and raise us above all our troubles. If we have a hard time believing this, experience will convince us. "Come, see and taste," said David, "how sweet is the Lord."
The emphasis of God's love has overwhelmed me of late. I've always known and had experience of seeing God's love and I've "loved" because He has loved me. But for some reason lately, He's emphasized for me His love so richly defined in my own life. I have had the privilege of watching VGF love on many levels....from laying sod, to unpacking chairs, to working tirelessly in the new building. I have seen and experienced VGF agents work on helping individuals change their station in life and promote a way to live that is contrary to the world. I have witnessed the personal blessings from the Lord that are far above anything that I could have ever imagined. I see the talent and sacrificial love that exudes from VGF staff, council, elders, ministry leaders and attendees that is so unselfishly shared, it is penetrating lives and changes them forever. God's love is all around us and leaves us with no excuse, "and since we thus are God's, everything that we do for him is easy. Those who are God's are always glad, when they are not divided, because they only want what God wants and want to do for him all that he wishes."
We prayed for Andrew and Myra Dempsey this weekend as they take on the new position of Community Groups Pastor and one thing that Pastor John prayed in the 9:45 service was the emphasis that Andrew and Myra "would love these people." I have no doubt they will, but it once again penetrated my heart to this latest confirmation from the Lord....to love as He loves us. And then to read from Francois... "Christian perfection is not so severe, tiresome, and constraining as we think. It asks us to be God's from the bottom of our hearts. And since we thus are God's, everything that we do for him is easy." It is we who make things difficult in this walk with Christ. We can love Him and others because He first loved us. Be overwhelmed this week and in the weeks to come as you spend time loving God. This is my personal "marilynism," I have what I have, I am what I am, I do what I do and I become what I will be...because of what's been done FOR me. That maybe out there in some other version, but I've been rehearsing that since I was a young in this walk with Christ. For me, it keeps all things in perspective.
We love you all, we are thankful for VGF and anticipate the transition, with prayer and supplication into the new building to be directed by the Lord.