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Former FUMC pastor: Faith is contagious

Whether it be a time of crisis, a regular school day or a Sunday in the pulpit, Gorman Houston is ready to respond in whatever way God leads him.

Houston, the former pastor of First United Methodist Church in Greenville, now serves as the pastor for First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, is a teacher of business strategy and is the chaplain in times of crisis for the University of Alabama. While visiting St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Wednesday, Houston took the opportunity to speak to the audience about a study on the essence of faith, which has been in the making for the past 20 years.

“I’ve come to the place where I’m convinced that when we talk about the essence of faith, we are talking about Jesus’ invitation for us to become a part of the mighty movement of God,” said Houston.

He explained that the calling to follow Christ is not only meant in the literal sense of leaving behind your home and your family, but also that it is meant in a spiritual sense.

“The following is something other than following away from there. Following, maybe not farther but further,” said Houston.

Houston went on to explain the five aspects of the anatomy of the disciple that must be engaged to follow Jesus: the enlightened mind, the surrendered will, the warmed heart, the outstretched hand and the bonded fellowship.

The enlightened mind referenced the mind that is transformed by Godly wisdom. Wisdom, Houston said, has nothing to do with education and intelligence and, in turn, transforms our minds. Believers begin to see things differently and become open to all that God is doing in their minds once they have reached a sense of enlightenment.

The surrendered will focused on getting away from being a “stiff-necked person.” Houston spoke of surrendering to being yoked with Jesus and coming under His will in order to avoid becoming stubborn and disregarding Christ’s will for us to live for a greater purpose.

The warmed heart gives believers the ability and power to overcome the things that would normally defeat believers. The process of having a warmed heart purifies them so they may experience the closeness of God.

The outstretched hand regarded servanthood and compassion. It challenged believers to be compassionate like Jesus by demonstrating hospitality and generosity to those in need instead of turning a blind eye.

Finally, the bonded fellowship encouraged believers to come together to spread the word. By banding together to share the gospel, believers can gain encouragement to go where they are needed.

“Faith, I’ve come to believe, is viral. It’s contagious,” said Houston. “Maybe this virus just gets going and we find that it works best if it takes over our lives.”