A Heart Strangely Warmed

It was John Wesley who initially described his feelings as “my heart was strangely warmed” when he trusted in Christ alone for his salvation. He was confidently assured that his sins had been forgiven as he placed his heart into God’s hands. Subsequently, Wesley began a movement known as the Methodists as he traveled thousands of miles each year preaching and teaching others to submit their lives to Christ. Many hearts were “strangely warmed” as a result of his testimony, teaching, and discipleship.

I felt my heart “strangely warmed” this past weekend as I had the privilege of serving among a group of Salvation Army officers and corps members in Northern California. We experienced a refreshing and renewing time of worship, teaching, and fellowship. We put our lives back into the hands of Christ as we consecrated ourselves to God’s goodness and grace. It was a sweet time. Our hearts were strangely warmed.

When is the last time you felt your heart “strangely warmed” by the empowering presence of God? Can you recall that sense of joy or blessing or contentment in Christ?

Unfortunately, my observation today is that too many hearts are cold and hardened by the situations and circumstances of life. Each day we encounter hearts that are harsh, crusty, angry, or brittle. Tired out by the stresses and strains of daily life, many are letting their hearts flounder from God’s loving intentions. How does this happen? Well, we become impatient, indifferent, or impulsive in our responses to our external and internal worlds, and we lose perspective for the way forward.

The recipe for softening our hearts and making them more pliable to the fresh move to of God’s Spirit? Here are a few suggestions…

Listen prayerfully: notice the state of your own soul as well as the soul of others around you. Choose a listening posture as you interact with others, free of correction, competition, or comparison. What this world needs today: lots of listening.

Choose grace: instead of jumping to conclusions or casting judgment, withhold your opinions and prayerfully offer words of grace, mercy, and love. Let your countenance be transformed by the grace God has extended to you, and then freely offer it to others.

Practice forgiveness: ask God to give you the patience to forgive as your first response, rather than your last. Prayerfully forgive and forget, as much as possible. A posture of forgiveness will soften your heart toward all who have offended you. Seek help if necessary.

Love with your whole heart: the greatest response of all is to love. Yes, with your whole heart. First to God, then to others, but also to yourself. Seek God’s heart for those around you, especially those who are difficult to love. Out love one another. It’s always the better way. Always.

When you find your heart “strangely warmed” once again, be sure to offer God your thanks and praise. And, warm-heartedly influence others. It’s very good for your soul.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.