Introduction

Staggering Love Edition

September 11 through October 29, 2016

“... To know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

This edition of Grow Deep walks through St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Our journey is shaped the personal reflections and stories shared in John H. Kieschnick book, “Staggering Love.” John has been a pastor, leader, teacher and friend to thousands. He’s been a personal mentor and encourager to me for more than a quarter century. John retired as senior pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas in 2007, but he’s far from retired in ministry.

Shortly before I came to Webster Gardens, John shared his book with me. It touched me because John vividly expressed the staggering love of Jesus by being vulnerable with his readers sharing his own struggles and weaknesses. For this same reason, my introductions to each week of this study are first person stories as I share a little of my encounters with Staggering Love. Listen to John as he shares a little of his motivation for writing this book in his introduction,

“Over the years, God has used Paul's’ letter to the Ephesians to inspire and challenge me. At times when I’ve felt discouraged, the truths of my identity as God's beloved child and his purposes for my life have instilled my heart with new hope. When I’ve wondered how the Christian life is meant to work, this letter has give me insights on the choices I make each day--as well as my motives for making them. There may not be another part of God’s word that has such a powerful and positive impact in my life.” (p. 16)

“To know this love that surpasses knowledge,” (Ephesians 3:19) is something not taught in classrooms or books, it’s discovered when we meet Jesus heart for us in our darkest places, hidden insecurities, weaknesses and heartbreaking experiences. When Jesus meets us in those places, we meet staggering love.

This issue of Grow Deep is complimented by a sermon series in our worship setting and questions for conversation in small groups. The sermons are rebroadcast on our website and the small group conversations are included in this booklet. Please note that whenever you read a quote with a page number that reference is to John’s book, “Staggering Love.” You don’t have to read, “Staggering Love” to participate, but we encourage you to get a copy from the church office or your small group to take in the full experience.

If you are not already connected to a small group, I want to appeal to you to take a step to get connected. We’ll help you with introductions. The best way to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” is to experience staggering love in real relationships. Small groups do that.

My thanks to John Kieschnick for his love and friendship; to Patty Hoesel at Gloria Dei Lutheran for going the extra mile for us over and over again; to Sandi Geis and Edie Grieshaber my co-writers and editors; and all the Small Group Ministry team at Webster Gardens for working shaping the vision of this project. Now, I’ll let John bring us into the journey…

“Are you ready to have your world turned upside down--in a good way? That’s what God wants to do in your life and mine. So… let the reconstruction continue!” (p. 18)

Grow Deep in Jesus’ Staggering Love!

Pastor Bill Geis
Director of Adult Ministries