Our family lived in New Mexico for ten years.  After the fifth year, we began to miss the changing of the seasons.  We even began to miss winter.  I know….it’s hard to believe.  Now, living in Iowa for twenty-five years, my favorite seasonal change is winter to spring.  The air is fresh, the trees are budding (sorry for those who have spring allergies), the grass begins to green and the temperatures begin to rise.  Things just feel new.  It’s time to get out the bikes, the lawn mowers and the garden tools.  It’s time to polish the car or for many in our church, their Harley’s. There is new life emerging.

I believe we are in a new season as a local church.  We have gone through a long extended winter that at times was harsh.  Our church has weathered serious illnesses, family losses, and relational difficulties just to name a few.  But there is a new feel in the air, freshness.  There is new life sprouting all around us.

I am not naive enough to believe everything in the next few months and years will be perfect.  There will be challenges, difficulties and steep hills to climb.  But it seems like there is a lift in attitudes that make us more buoyant when difficulties come and a greater sense of hopefulness that is released within us.

Over the next several weeks and maybe even months, I want to describe what I believe our church will be experiencing from the hand of God.  I see only dimly but God has a wonderfully bright and fruitful future for us.  I am more excited than ever to walk with him.   I have come to understand that Jesus is more available to us than we had ever dared imagine.

Will you join me in putting aside the cynicism that keeps us bound and unable to truly hope for the best?  Will you join me in embracing your desire for the one thing you would give almost everything to gain – a dynamic and loving encounter with Jesus, a renewal of heart and an energized soul.

Perhaps like me, you’ve been working hard to figure life out, to do your best and to get it right so things go well.  You have been striving to do your part in order that God would do His. The Bible calls this approach to life the old way.  If I do well, God is pleased and rewards my performance.  If I do bad, I will open my life up to the worst.  The old way produces inner emptiness, churning, and unbearable pressure.  Because I never seem to be capable of doing “my part” very well, I live with insecurity and even a fear puts distance between me and the abundant life.

In this new season, I believe God is inviting us to step into another way of living, a new way of the Spirit.  This new way has its anchor in the reality of the finished work of the Cross.  This new way leads us out of a life that doesn’t work very well because it demands that we work.  The new way of the Spirit leads us into a mysterious conviction that our God will see us through no matter what.  And even in storms of doubt, this new way of the Spirit leads us toward trusting less in our own abilities and more in God’s great faithfulness.   This trust in God’s ability helps us keep the bigger hopes alive.  There is a new way to live.  It’s the way of the Spirit.  Let’s dare to dream our greatest dreams as we enter this new season.