Fellowship

I think fellowship with other Christians is something the Lord really wants for us. It mimics the Trinity, the love and fellowship within the 3 persons of the godhead. We sharpen one another, and we support one another. God uses us in each other’s lives.

Recently, a friend lost a child. She was someone I knew, not very well, when I lived in Virginia. We are friends on Facebook, but we don’t share personally with one another. Still, her posting about her loss moved me and it inspired me. I was impressed with her faith, and I was filled with compassion. I wrote her a little note.

It occurred to me that Facebook does offer us fellowship opportunities that are different from being in a church or a group, one-on-one, face to face, but at the same time, it’s fellowship, encouragement, prayers and blessings. It’s clear to me that God has used my Facebook friends to fellowship with me over the past years in so many ways, not the least of which being encouragement and prayer.

I Thessalonians 3:6-8

6 But now Timothy has come to us y from you and brought us good news about your faith and love and reported that you always have good memories of us, wanting to see us, as we also want to see you.  7 Therefore, •brothers, in all our distress and persecution, we were encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

Clearly a face to face fellowship was something Paul really longed for. But at the same time, his letter stood in the place of that face to face fellowship. Plus, it wasn’t just fellowship with the Thessalonians that Paul’s letter blessed, it was circulated throughout the churches. It was circulated throughout history, and throughout the world. It gives us fellowship with Paul that we cannot have in this world. So it’s very powerful.

I think that’s why I like biographies. It’s the chance to benefit from another person’s experience. People are creative, and they find all kinds of ways to serve the Lord in this world. There are so many creative ways in which we can relate to God, and if we are stuck in our own lives, alone, with just a bible, we miss out on watching God’s creativity through other sources. It limits us.

I’m the first to admit that I have limited face to face fellowship. I might sound like a hypocrite. Please know that I am not giving myself a pass. It’s been a process for me, and it’s difficult, but I’m committed to growing in Christ and becoming more open as a person. I know there are creative ways to do this, and I am growing, just like everybody else.

The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (1 Th 3:6–8). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Fellowship

Honors

I’ve thought a lot recently about the honors we assign to one another and what they mean.

I’ve said before that I’m a 3/4 person. Meaning, I do everything about 3/4 of the way. I will say that I’ve improved in that regard, and what I find is that I do 100% of the things I want to, that I find motivation from or that I have a clear goal.

The 3/4 things have to do with what I think matters. I don’t think it matters if I make up my bed. I think it would be better if I did. I think it would be a healthy thing to do. So, I make attempts at it, but I do not consistently do it.

People who are 100% people do not understand 3/4 people. My parents make their bed every day, and always have. It is important to them. It is the right thing to do.

At the recent graduation ceremonies, there are students who graduate ‘with honors.’ They are set apart, and given special recognition. And they deserve it!

I did not graduate with honors, and I didn’t think of trying. I didn’t assign the value to my education that I would today. I 3/4 it all the way through.

That’s ok though. When we go to heaven, we all receive rewards based on what we have done here. I think I might qualify for something, but I’m not sure what. I have found; however, that there are so many great people of faith in the world and in history, it will be a pleasure and honor to see the honors bestowed upon them.

A long time ago I was talking to my mom about this, and she said ‘I just want to be there.’ I love that. I do just want to be there. I’m not proud of the things I have done, but if I think if I had a big ministry, I would have a hard time keeping my pride in check.

I just want to enjoy watching everybody else get their rewards. I can do that without envy, I think. Just being happy for others is a reward in itself.

Honors

Knowing What is True

I have found through the divorce process that any individual event can be wildly differently interpreted by two different people. I have prided myself on being able to see the same thing different ways. To be able to see how it might be interpreted differently by someone else. You would think that would be helpful when you are discussing things with someone you have differences with, but not always.

What I see today is that my truth has validity. I may not be able to convince someone else to see things the way I do, but I don’t have to do that. I can take a stand, know that I am right and not accept anything less.

Not all disagreements have to result in compromise. Especially when you have no incentive to do so. You can agree to disagree. That doesn’t even need to be stated. Just end the conversation and move on.

The Enemy attacks me by feeding into my insecurities. Just because I had issues 2 years ago,  years ago, and so on, doesn’t mean I have those issues now. I do try to be open to the truth, whatever it might be, but I can also take a stand for the truth as I see it and be strong in my convictions.

Back during the Clinton White House years, I heard James Carville, a consultant to the president, talk about their strategies for dealing with accusations: deny, deny, deny. That is exactly what the Clintons did, over and over, and honestly, it wasn’t ineffective. Most of what they were accused of slid right off.

It’s kind of that way when you want to assert something that isn’t true. You state it as a fact over and over to everybody who will listen. You don’t have to believe it’s true, you only have to assert that it’s true. When you do so confidently, probably most people will believe you.

That’s not how I am, and it’s not how I want to be, but my happiness depends on me knowing who I am in Christ, not what other people believe about me. Who I am in Christ is forgiven and accepted and loved. That’s something I can assert that is consistently true. It’s true about me, and it’s true about every believer. That is common ground. The rest is between God and ourselves.

Knowing What is True

Hinderances

I’m going to steal liberally from Beth Moore today regarding a lesson in her series ‘Children of the Day.’ Week 3, day 2. The whole lesson is excellent.

She goes into a lot of detail about hindrances, specifically those in Paul’s life. There are a lot of examples of Paul’s ministry being hindered by Satan, jail, shipwreck, house arrest…..there are others….but the point of it is that he didn’t allow the hindrances to hinder his ministry. God allowed these things to happen, and perhaps Paul could have done more, but he did exactly what God planned for him.

I identified 2 hindrances in my life. The two big ones. Addiction and divorce. I realized they are related. I also realize that they no longer define me unless I allow them to.

God has given me 2 gifts that I must acknowledge. First, new love. Never thought it would happen again, and I was prepared that it wouldn’t, but it happened. It’s wonderful, different, and fun. I’m totally committed to enjoy every minute of it.

Second, and more important, sobriety. I wouldn’t have new love that had any shot at all if i wasn’t sober. I wouldn’t have a life at all. It’s not even about avoiding jails, institutions and death, it’s about the fact that there are gifts God wants to offer his children and they are wonderful if we accept them.

The hindrances I mentioned haven’t gone away. But they don’t prevent me from living out God’s plan for me. I just have to get up in the morning and lay aside what formerly hindered me and be the child God made me to be.

Hinderances

Youtube Prayers

I way under utilize Youtube. But the more I dig in, the more I find. Do you know you can have a tutorial on how to do makeup like Jennifer Lawrence in 2013? Hahaha….well, there are useful things too.

When I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, i turned to Youtube. There are many relaxation videos and I would focus on them to try to get to sleep. I spoke of that earlier, and it might have worked somewhat but there were no dramatic differences, so I quit.

Still, there are so very many of them.

I have been using the ‘Battle Ready Prayer’ for 2 years or more. It’s about 15-20 minutes long and it’s beautiful and intricate and I love it, but I got up today and said that I wasn’t inspired and I didn’t feel I could connect. So I went to Youtube and put in ‘Christian prayer.’ Here is  the first one that came up:

I like having words to pray. My brain isn’t creative enough to come up with the eloquence written by many, many great people of the faith. So I steal and covet other people’s prayers to a certain extent.

In the book ‘Taking Hold of God,’ by Joel R. Beeke and Brian G. Najapfour, there is a chapter on John Bunyan. John Bunyan in around 1600, believed in praying in the Spirit. He eschewed the state sponsored church’s liturgies and rote prayer. He went to jail for most of his life for proposing this point of view.

I get that point of view. Saying a rosary can be a meaningful experience, or it can be just a ‘going through the motions.’

The key is to make prayer meaningful. When I follow a written prayer, am I paying attention to it? Am I talking to God as I go through it?

In the Episcopal Church, they have extensive liturgy. I attended an Episcopal Church for over 10 years and I tried every week to connect to the words that were so familiar. The one true thing about having a liturgy that you know so well, is that it’s in your mind and heart verbatim.

Here is how I do it today:

I have a list on my computer that has people’s names and prayer requests. Each day I click off each one.

Then I pray a prayer that is written. I get them from different places. I like this Youtube find because it’s like a new window opening up with lots of different kinds of prayers. New prayers mean new ideas. A new understanding of God. So, unlike John Bunyan, I won’t be going to prison for refusing to recite written prayers.

Youtube Prayers

God is a forgiving and loving God

I was reading Psalms today and came across a chapter that touched my heart.

I tend to think of God as a rule-keeper. Someone who punishes evil. And I’m evil at the heart of it. Selfish and unkind. Not that I’m not working on it, but I think at the core that’s how we all are.

Psalm 103:8-14 is chock full of grace:

8 The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.

He’s like a father. A good father. He doesn’t want bad things for us. He doesn’t relish the painful consequences in our lives. He isn’t as harsh as he really ought to be. He wants us to do better and be better, and he works in His power through the Holy Spirit to bring us into the fold. It encourages me.

The one who is accusing and angry is not just Satan, it’s ourselves too. We fall right into Satan’s trap of accusing and condemning ourselves. When we truly love and depend on God, we recognize his love and forgiveness. And his great gentleness with us. So, as for me, I’m going to try to be more gentle with myself too. Truthful, but gentle.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 103:8–14). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

God is a forgiving and loving God

Living in the Darkness

I read 1 John 5-10 today. I have to say it was freeing and liberating.

You see, I was caught up in sin for a long time. An addiction (or addictions) had control of me and I couldn’t shake them. When I would go to church, I felt nothing, I felt unworthy and hopeless because I couldn’t see how I could possibly live the life of victory so many other people seemed to have.

1 John 5-10 says:

Living in the Light
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus* and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

I realize now that God set me free from my worst addictions. I heard Tony Evans, and Beth Moore both within a few weeks say that they had been free from entangling sins for some time. I didn’t relate because I hadn’t had that experience. But if you look at the verse above, you see that there is living in spiritual darkness, whatever that might be, and then there is sint hat we confess to God and he cleanses us.

God gives us a way out. He cleanses us and he does deliver us from addiction or habitual sin when we ask. It might not be today or tomorrow, but our path is our path and when we seek Him, he walks with us on it.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (1 Jn 1:5–10). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Living in the Darkness