I’ve heard from many of you that Stonecroft teeters on the brink of something great. While I am just climbing up the learning curve, one thing I have been strongly led to is this: Jesus is our model. In fact, three ideas shine clear as to how every one of us can hope in God’s promising future by asking three questions about Jesus. They have the initials WDJD:
1) What did Jesus DO?
Matthew 9:35, AMP
“Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages [in Galilee], teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”
Jesus provides us with a tangible example of loving people into a relationship with Him.
Similarly, Stonecroft is both relational – going to people in need – and informational – communicating truth a future believer needs. Because Jesus healed and taught, usually in that order, we must keep relating and communicating, too.
2) What DOES Jesus do?
Mark 12:30, AMP
“… And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.”
I’m asking about Stonecroft, “Through which efforts are we seeing the most people reconciled to God, sustainably?” By that I mean, where do we not only see women hearing and responding to the Gospel but giving their time, treasure, and talent to advance the work? I’m eager to, with you, discover where God is most fruitfully at work among us.
I’m also looking forward to seeing how what we’re doing aligns with what is known about how people grow in Christ. For more than 80 years, Stonecroft has seen the patterns of how the Holy Spirit woos women toward faith. I want that to advise what I’ve learned from research done by MOPS, Baylor University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Willow Creek Association, Barna Research, and for my doctorate. I’ve studied how 750,000 people grew toward Jesus, first deciding to follow Him and then living out their faith. Stonecroft’s 80 years of insight can guide us: What DOES Jesus do, and how do we focus our relationships and resources toward what bears the most fruit?
3) What does Jesus DESIRE?
John 21:15-17, AMP
“So, when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ’Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?’ He said to Him, ’Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].’ Jesus said to him, ’Feed My lambs.’ Again He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].’ Jesus said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?’ Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, ‘Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”
Jesus is asking Peter, “Will you agapao me?” That is, “Will you love me with total commitment and devotion?” Peter is saying back, “Yes, I’ll phileo you.” (That is, I’ll love you like a close friend.)
The reason I’m thrilled to be at Stonecroft is that I’ve sensed God saying, “The safest place to be is in the center of My will.” While I’m imperfect, I want to “agapeo” Jesus. That is, to love Him and join you in loving Him with total commitment and devotion. I am so glad we pray here, so glad we discern. The root of our future hope is, “Will we do what Jesus DESIRES?” Which means “Will we love Him with agapeo: total commitment and devotion?”
I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I do know that, like Jesus’ next words to Peter, which foretold Peter’s death, it calls for readiness for some things to die. Our programs, our purposes, our favorite processes: all need to be on the table if we are to say, “We will love You, Jesus, with agapeo, total commitment.” Everything needs to be on the table if we are to say, “Yes, LORD, you KNOW I love you.” If we are, like Peter, to give up self-will to build Jesus’ church.
What DID He do? – He healed and taught so, we too, relate and communicate.
What DOES He do? – We share our insights and learn how He draws people to Him.
What does He DESIRE? – We desire to agapao Him, with total commitment and devotion.
Following Jesus is where Stonecroft will keep on going. Following Jesus is why I am here. To join you in loving each woman where she is, as she is and, together with her, drawing near to our LORD.
Dr. Naomi Cramer Overton
President and CEO