Easter is a wonderful time of celebration, rejoicing in the good news of Christ's resurrection! As a child, I can recall countless memories of my mom preparing a lamb dinner for our family and friends. Yes, there were red eggs and sweet pastries around the table for all to enjoy. This vivid, joyous scenario reminds me of a scripture, Genesis 31:54
"He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there."As a mother of 3 grown children and a happy grandma (YaYa) of 5, I have enjoyed inviting family and friends to Good Friday services throughout North County San Diego for many years. This year our local church sent out thousands of mailed invitations inviting folks to join us for our Easter services. I found myself extending "the invitation" to my neighbors and piano clients.
So, I ask myself... Why do I do this? First, I think I would have to say that the motivation of my heart is to share with others because I don't want anyone to miss out on the blessings of knowing Christ and His love for all. There's another reason why I am extending an invitation for you to join us at my church. The warm fellowship and loving community of belonging can be experienced at this friendly church. With that being said, I would like to introduce you to our Pastor and his family.
I am thrilled to share with you an interview I had with our pastor, Mel Svendsen. Needless to say, I was excited to read his honest and sincere answers to all of my questions. No, they weren't real hard questions about deep theology but rather, an inside look at the pastor having a passion for loving God and others in our community. Get ready to read... An Interview with Pastor Mel Svendsen.
What background experiences most affected your decision to become a pastor?
I had parents who were solidly Christian and greatly influenced my love for God and the church. Also, a youth pastor modeled for me the impact you can have on others and the satisfaction that brings. Also, as a freshman in college, I was hired to be a youth pastor in a small church and sensed God’s clear confirmation in my heart that pastoring would be the calling of my life.
What do you hope people will experience when they attend Riverview Church?
I’m praying that people will experience the presence, power, and love of God in our fellowship as well as a commitment to the truths of God’s Word being taught in all of our ministries.
Can you speak specifically to Bible verses and examples that have greatly impacted your life?
So many verses have influenced my life but certainly Micah 6:8 which was my Dad’s life verse and I adopted it as an early life verse for my life as well. Proverbs 3:5-6 has also been a powerful passage in my life. John 3 has been a passage that has motivated my love for evangelism and how to share the gospel with others.
What devotional book do you use or recommend?
I would recommend “The Pursuit of God” by Tozer...great book about nurturing a heart and life for God. I also have appreciated “Systematic Theology” by Wayne Grudem. I had the blessing of working with Dr. Grudem at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Grudem does a great job of integrating theology with devotional writings that challenge our response to the wonderful truths of God’s Word. Recently I have also been reading “Experiencing God’s Presence” by Chris Tiegreen. I would also be remiss if I didn’t at least communicate that the Bible itself is a wonderful source for daily “devotions”. Reading the Psalms, Proverbs, and virtually all of the New Testament can inspire our “devotion” to the Lord. Certainly all of the Bible is worthy of our study but the books I’ve mentioned are typically where you will find inspirational, “devotional” readings to challenge your walk with the Lord.
At what point in your life did you become convinced to trust the Bible?
I was raised by parents who loved God’s Word so I always had a trust in God’s Word. The confirmation of God’s Word grew through my high school years as I was discipled by a wonderful youth pastor. My confidence in the Word of God continued to grow as I fell in love with the study of apologetics especially in the fields of archeology, biology, and earth science which I believe all confirm the authority and accuracy of the inerrant Word of God.
What Bible insights pertain to a person who wants to develop principles of lifelong success?
Again I would affirm Proverbs 3:5-6 as well as Micah 6:8. For the believer, these verses help us to understand what the Lord expects of us after coming to faith in Him. I believe these verses give us a wonderfully succinct definition of success and communicate principles of success that we can apply to all areas of our lives.
What does the Bible say about forgiveness being less of an emotion and more of an act of the will?
The Bible certainly commands us to forgive which entails a decision of the will even when we don’t “feel “ like forgiving. We must forgive like Christ forgave us which lays out for believers the standard of forgiveness we need to display in our lives.
How did your near-death experience affect your reliance
on God’s word?
My near death experience gave me an even greater appreciation of the God that we serve and the wonderful gift that life is. We need to view every moment of our lives and potential opportunities to glorify God in all that we do. The experience also helped me appreciate relationships even more in my life. I have a greater appreciation for every moment I spend with my amazing wife and kids. Also, the relationships I have with other believers have become even more precious to me.
Is there anything in the Bible that you struggle with?
There are teachings in the Bible that I would love to understand better. For example, I would love to have a better understanding of the salvation process and how God works in His sovereignty and wisdom while holding people responsible for their rejection of Christ. I would love to have a better understanding of the amazing way in which God created life and the awesome diversity that He demonstrated in the creation process. One other thing I would mention is that I’m saddened over Hell. I totally believe it exists but my heart breaks over the realization that people who reject Christ are destined for it. This reality certainly motivates me to be a more zealous witness for Christ.
I consider it a tremendous privilege and blessing to serve the folks at Riverview. My prayer would be that Christ would be glorified in everything that happens at our church and that our commitment and legacy would be found in our passion for loving God, loving His Word, and loving others by our Christ-centered fellowship and witness.Thank you, Pastor Mel! God's richest blessings to you and your family!
My devotional reading today says,
"Come to Me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need - and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on my beloved children. Come to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you."Psalm 36:7-9
For those that have been on a journey searching for truth, Jesus says "I am the way and the truth and the life" in John 14:5-7. If you have lost your way, Jesus says in Ezekiel 34:15-17 "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays." My hope and prayer for you dear readers is that you will feel safe and loved in any church you choose to attend this Easter. When we get to heaven one day, we will feel so comfortable and at home in the presence of our Lord.
For more information, visit Riverview Church Website
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." C. S. Lewis
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