A Letter From Phil | March 2020

Phil and Jan Strout

National Director, Vineyard USA



Friends,

It is wonderful to see the changing of the seasons that happens each year in our home state of Maine.
.
Winter brings heavy snow and thick ice, while spring emerges from the hard desolation of the cold with colors, sounds, and life bursting out everywhere!
.
As a pastor for most of my life, I’ve had the privilege of seeing many lives emerge from their own hard winter into the springtime of an encounter with the Lord Jesus.
.
As I’ll be saying many times this year, the greatness of the Gospel is its power to turn a heart lost in winter into a heart found by spring!
.
And the seasons are a powerful reminder of what happens to people when the Easter life of Jesus – the resurrection life – gets ahold of them.
.
Many Christians celebrate a season of 40 days of preparation of the heart leading up to Easter Sunday (here’s a great resource to guide you through it).
.
During this season, the following verse has been often been used to guide us in some ways we can prepare our hearts for the Easter celebration:
.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning'” Joel 2:12.
.
If the Kingdom of God is about springtime, then why did Israel – and why do we – need to sometimes return to the Lord with fasting, weeping, and mourning?
.
We fast, because it reminds us that our primary hunger in this life is for God, and for His will to be done in us and through us in His world.
.
We weep, because tears can cleanse the soul of sadness, and lift off of us the weight of sin that can burden us along the journey.
.
We mourn, because we live in a world where many believe they are better off living outside of God’s loving leadership. We mourn because there are those in the world who are sick, who are dying, who are isolated, who are enslaved, and our hearts break with God’s over their plight. We mourn because we can forget our first love (Rev. 2:4) as we find ourselves quietly caught up in the love of money, prestige, or personal comfort.
.
And as we fast, weep, and mourn, we can pause to consider how the Holy Spirit may want to help us make repairs, to rebuild, to replant, anything in us that has been damaged by the winter.
.
Blessings to you as you move deeper into 2020 following Jesus, and growing in the resurrection life promised to you.
.
I’m excited about how God will encourage you this year, and warm your heart with the sunshine of His Love.
.
See you on the trail,
.
Phil
.
Phil Strout
National Director, Vineyard USA