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Dear Woodland Hills Recap

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Throughout our Dear Church series, we listened in on what the Spirit had to say to the seven churches in Revelation. At the end of the series, we brought it home and listened for what the Spirit might be saying to our church.

Woodland Hills staff and pastors spent time prayerfully discerning what Jesus might say in a letter to us today. As a result, in weekend sermons Greg explored three themes we feel the Spirit gave to us, and put together the three letters below.

In responding to these words, we wanted to be both “hearers and doers of the word” (James 1:22), so together, we took active steps in the direction the Spirit is leading. Below each letter, we added examples that you sent in that describe the “baby steps” you’re taking to pursue the three themes.

Letter #1

To the angel of the Church of WH in Maplewood, MN,

This is the word of the Holy One, who abolishes lies with the sword coming out of his mouth. Listen to what the Spirit is saying to you today.

You are admirably committed to being grounded in scripture and to defending my loving character. I am delighted with the way you are helping many to worship me with all their minds. I applaud your fearlessness in embracing challenging questions, and you rightly celebrate your different perspectives on minor doctrines. And I rejoice in your willingness to assume positions that are highly unpopular in the broader culture, such as my call to enemy-loving non-violence.

Nevertheless, Woodland Hills Church, I have this against you. Like the church at Laodicea, many of you have lost your first love. Some have grown accustomed to feasting on kingdom ideas but have neglected the truth that even the best ideas are worthless unless they bring about a change in the way you live, day by day.

I call on you to open your hearts and to let the Spirit empower you to translate your head-knowledge into action. Revive and refresh your first love. Awaken the Spirit I have placed in you. Your time of rest is coming, but it is not yet. This is the time to seek first the kingdom and all of the right-relationships that come with it. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to Woodland Hills Church.

In response

We asked you to think and pray about how God might be calling you to rekindle your love for Jesus and his Kingdom, and a baby step you’re taking. Here are some of your responses:

  • Spend 15 minutes alone with God daily. Fast once a week.
  • Beginning my day seeking direction from the Lord versus scrolling social media.
  • Go on a walk in nature while listening to God, not a podcast.
  • Replace some of the imaginary conversations with my crush with praying to God.
  • Get the book Sacred Rhythms and read it along with my gathering group friend.
  • Stay quiet. No music, no social media, no talking for 10-15 mins.
  • 30 minutes per day of praying and reading or journaling or worshipping.

Letter #2

To the angel of Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood Minnesota,

This is the word of the one who is the first and the last, whose eyes are a blazing fire, piercing through deception to see the truth of all things. Hear what the Spirit is saying to you today.

I know the generosity and works of your congregation, and I rejoice. As a group, your willingness to serve “the least of these” has made you a bright light to your community and beyond. Continue to run this race with perseverance, for you are laying up for yourselves a treasure in heaven that neither moth nor rust can corrupt.

Nevertheless, there are some of you who, in your personal lives, are being seduced by the affluence and business of Babylon. As a result, you have no space in your life, or in the life of your family and friends, to welcome in the “outsider.” I call on you to reorganize your life around the values of my eternal kingdom so that you may demonstrate to others the radical hospitality I’ve demonstrated to you.

Whoever has an ear to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

In response

We asked you to think and pray about what it might mean for you to make space for the ‘other’ in your life. Here are some of your responses:

  • This week, I’ll buy a hamburger, fries, and a drink and give to a homeless person that I see frequently on the streets who is asking for money.
  • We have some new elderly neighbors. The husband is in a long recovery and it’s difficult for them to leave the house. My baby step is to visit them every other week for a couple hours.
  • Inviting all my coworkers to hang out instead of just my select work friends.
  • Stick around after church and find people to meet and connect with.
  • Call family members that live alone at least monthly.
  • As an introvert, it’s scary to me to engage with strangers for anything other than business. So my first baby step is to establish a rhythm of friendliness, taking the initiative to smile and greet my neighbors, especially the new family across the street.

Letter #3

To the angel of Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood Minnesota,

This is the word of the Eternal One, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. Hear what the Spirit is saying to you today.

You have done well in keeping my name from being dragged into Babylon’s toxic politics. I applaud your teamwork approach to leadership and to all ministries. And I delight that you have, as a group, begun to take extra measures to care for the well-being of my earth and my animals.

But I call you, Woodland Hills Church, to attention! Do not let the Powers that oppress the world cause you to forget that a battle rages all around you and that you each have an important role to play in this battle. The time is short, so this is not the time to become satisfied with your past accomplishments. This is the time to press in! There are still greater things I want to do in you and through you on behalf of the community and the world, if you will each fully devote yourself to the cause of this war and place your total trust in me.

Let everyone who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today.

In response

We asked you to think and pray about what it might mean for you to resist a certain power in your life. Here are some of your responses:

  • Invest radically in the ones in front of me; not fear their rejection of the gospel I carry, but boldly offer what the world cannot give.
  • Stop having toxic conversations at work.
  • Resist pornography and urge to be alone.
  • I am too judgemental on those I do not understand or agree with. I commit to having accountability and prayer around this area.
  • Resist the urge to desire more financial stability, discretionary income. Sit down with spouse and evaluate giving. Challenge each other to be more generous.
  • I need to resist the fear of fellowshipping with other believers, because I think I’m too old, and because of deficits from a stroke. I need to stop listening to the enemy, because this lie is causing me to miss out on so much!

Thank you to everyone who has participated and taken steps in areas the Spirit is leading us. These three sermons are done, but let us continue to pray, listen and take action. Please email us (info@whchurch.org), text us at 651-321-3030, or comment below if you have progress you’d like to share!

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"We just started attending last summer and we love it! This past weekend the music was so beautiful, I felt the Holy Spirit there and wept the entire time. And then the message on relationships spoke right to my own struggles. God is here."

– Nicole