Pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, Erwin McManus encouraged City Harvest Church to build an intimate relationship with God, so that He can give them the desires of their hearts.
Last weekend, City Harvest Church welcomed its first guest speaker for the year. Erwin McManus, lead pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, shared a timely message over the weekend of May 2 and 3. He reminded the church to embrace the fullness of life in God by staying unique, staying optimistic, and staying present.
Pastor Erwin about the reality of people experiencing cabin fever—the emotional turmoil and psychological effects of losing their freedom. “A lot of people are going stir crazy,” he described.
“I just want to challenge every single one of us, that when we’re starting to feel stir crazy, we actually begin to move it toward being crazy good,” he added.
Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:13 (NIV) that “If we are ‘out of our mind’, as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.”
Building on that, the pastor shared that often, when he felt really connected to God, it was as if he was going crazy—he would start dreaming, imagining, creating, and living outside what was possible.
“It’s almost as if you have to ground yourself back into reality for everyone else, and I’m convinced that God wants to keep a little bit of the crazy inside of every one of us,” said Pastor Erwin with a grin. “He wants to keep that spark of genius, that spark of creativity, that spark of imagination and inventiveness inside of us all.”
God promised in Psalm 37:4 that He would give people the desires of their hearts. In this declaration, however, people are called to take delight in the Lord first, following which He will give them the desires of their hearts.
Like many Christians, Pastor Erwin had prayed for things in life that did not come to pass, and wondered why his prayers were not answered.
“It’s because I kept getting the order wrong,” he explained. “If you start asking God for your desires before you let Him shape your heart, you’d be asking for the wrong desires.”
Love has a way of shaping a person’s heart, the pastor continued. When a person “delights in God”, God begins to shape that person’s desire. God wants to realign people’s lives in such a way that He can give them the desires of their hearts.
According to Pastor Erwin, people that possess such intimacy with God exhibit three characteristics:
THEY STAY UNIQUE
Pastor Erwin shared that he is often asked how he would live his life differently, what he would tell his younger self, and what he would change in his life if he could start all over again.
His first answer is always, “Stop living your life out of obligation, of what other people expect of you, and start living a life of intention for what God wants for you.” Looking back over his life, he realized that doing things out of obligation had sometimes resulted in regrets and losses.
People may think that Christianity is about conforming to a standard and becoming the same as every other Christian. However, God says the exact opposite in Romans 12:2 (NIV), which reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Those who live in the fullness that they are created to live in refuse to conform to the expectations of others, he noted. “Do not sacrifice your God-given uniqueness to be accepted by people who will not accept you the way God designed you to be,” he asserted.
The pastor reminded the church to step into the intention that God created them for, with full confidence.
THEY STAY OPTIMISTIC
During this season of coronavirus, people are constantly bombarded with negative news of people losing their lives, losing their jobs, hospitals being overrun, cities being paralyzed, and the global economy coming to a screeching halt.
It is in these moments that staying optimistic is a trait that the world desperately needs, said Pastor Erwin. “It is not about not being realistic and not seeing the reality of what’s going on all around us. It’s about never giving up on creating a better future.”
Philippians 4:4-8 reminds believers to rejoice in the Lord always, and not be anxious for anything. Apostle Paul had given Christians an understanding of how they should face a crisis: they must have their minds set on optimism, to believe that the future is going to be better than the past and to be reminded that they have the strength to rise above whatever they are facing right now.
Pastor Erwin shared his personal experience in facing a crisis. When he found out he had cancer in January 2017, he had to face the reality of his own finiteness and the fragility of life. When he was in the business world, he had to recover from the devastation of massive betrayal and millions of dollars in financial losses.
“We will all face those moments in our lives, when everything will seem so bleak, so dark and so traumatic,” he said. “In those times, if people just gather the information that is visible, they could easily give up and find no motivation in fighting for the future.
“That’s when you need to find the invisible material. When you cannot see your future in the whole, you realize that what you cannot see in the present is waiting for you in the future,” he encouraged. “There is God who is waiting for you, waiting for you to lean in and step up, and become His creative agent for creating a better future.”
THEY STAY PRESENT
There are times when people spend their lives impatiently wishing they were in the next stage of their lives. However, when they look back, they realize that they had missed the moment they were in.
“I can tell you that as you live your life if you’re too much in a hurry to get to the next place, you will look back with regret because you never fully experienced the last place,” said Pastor Erwin.
One of the things Jesus taught was to stay fully present at the moment in order to see the beauty and wonder of life. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus reminded His people who are fearful and overwhelmed by life to step back for a moment, pause, hit the reset button, and know that God is present.
When he was younger, Pastor Erwin had struggled with depression. At times, he felt overwhelmed by life and drowned in despair.
“And there are times I just couldn’t even think of a good reason to be alive,” said the pastor. “What’s amazing to me is that Jesus is saying this: ‘I see you, I know you. If you’ll just see through My eyes, you begin to see the beauty all around you.'”
In the midst of his depression, Pastor Erwin made a decision to train himself to see the beauty in everything, so that he would survive the darkness inside him. “I want you to discipline yourself to take time to see all the beauty and wonder around you,” he challenged. “This is what it means to live a life of worship.”
Worshipping is not only about singing and declaring God’s goodness, but also absorbing the beauty and wonder of all God has done, celebrating every moment of one’s life, and letting the words of Jesus fill one from the inside out.
In closing, Pastor Erwin prayed a moving prayer for CHC and its pastors, the nation, and the world, that in this time of COVID-19, God will move in a powerful way and meet His people in the realities of life.