Now that you have been Loved First would you like to help us love others?
Twenty-seven years ago, the Lord spoke 1 John 4:19 directly to my heart: “Mark, you love because I first love you.” He continued, “Come to me who is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and let me love you first, and then you will love.”
He reinforced the need to be loved first through his “new” command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34; 15:12). Imagine for a moment that you are standing beside me and your spouse is standing beside you. I turn to you and ask: “Pastor, would you please love your spouse as I, Mark Fee have loved you.” What would you do? Nothing! You would be unable to love your spouse as I have loved you—unable to heed the command—until you experienced love from me first in a tangible way. Then, and only then, would you be able to love “as” I have loved you. Likewise, only by experiencing Jesus loving us first can we love “as he has loved us.”
Initially, these words were so radical to me because they were so different from what I was practicing. I read the Bible daily to be “taught, rebuked, corrected, and trained” not to be loved by him. Next, I offered up “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” to him but rarely if ever expected him to talk to me, especially to love me. Finally, I would repent for the ways I had failed to measure up, sins of omission or commission, and then go into the world, determined to try harder and to do better. It’s as if the new command was: “As you read in the Bible how I loved Israel and the disciples so you must try to love.”
The “First Loved” program trains believers in practices that invite them to be loved by Jesus and the Father, by the Spirit, through words and actions (1 John 3:18). We like to say: “God’s love up close and personal like the disciples experienced through Jesus.” The training also helps participants discover and begin to eradicate some common barriers to receiving and sharing his love.
Our Friday-Sunday workshop provides participants with an initial “taste” of these practices and of the Father / Jesus loving them with words through the Bible and the Spirit through teaching, training, alone time, and small group. It gives an immersive experience with trained facilitators to help.
If you have questions or would like to set up a meeting time (either in person, via phone, or via video conference), I welcome the opportunity to do so. I'd love to personalize a weekend experience to fit your congregation's needs.
For His glory and our joy,
Dr. Mark Gordon Fee
"As a pastor, I found the First Loved weekend to be incredibly powerful and transformative, both for myself personally and for the people in our church who participated. At Vision New England, we continue to recommend the First Loved weekend to the pastors and churches who are participating in our Vision ONE process. Throughout the entire First Loved weekend, Mark combines solid, Biblically-guided teaching, with heartfelt personal stories and very practical wisdom, to provide each participant with a very “real” understanding of one of the most important realities of the Christ-following experience—God deeply, personally, and passionately loves His children. Mark’s remarkable teaching gift and his compassionate love for others, makes this one of the most impactful weekends that is currently available related to ‘the love of God.’ I strongly recommend this for any Christ-follower.”
Rev. Keith Tolley / Lead Pastor, Greenfield Alliance Church
"I think the First Loved weekend is something that every Christian should attend . . . the material presented deals with the number one issue people struggle with, namely, ‘After all my sin and failure, does God still accept me?’ That seed doubt that enters our minds is the very thing that hamstrings our fruitfulness in the kingdom of God and stymies our spiritual growth. I especially liked the exercise of applying a passage of Scripture to our individual lives and making it real. Thank you for a weekend that transforms, not just informs.”
Tom Peers / Senior Pastor, State Street Church