Some of you probably saw this one coming–you know I love John Donne.
Some of you probably saw this one coming–you know I love John Donne.
If you attend a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, you will be encouraged to continue growing in Christ by participating in what’s called a reunion group. This is a small group that meets on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, whatever you choose) to talk about how things are going in the spiritual life of the members.
I have been in a reunion group on and off for over twenty years. The groups change, of course, as people move or their life changes. The group I am in now meets at our church once a month, and each month we discuss an aspect of our Christian walk: piety (this covers things like prayer, worship and moments of closeness to Christ), study or action. Each of us has an opportunity to tell how we’ve been doing in that area and what our plans are for the coming month. We encourage one another and hold each other accountable. We pray together and we pray for each other.
Over time being in such a group together fosters strong bonds. It was my first group that taught me being quiet and shy didn’t mean I couldn’t be a leader and influence others for Christ. The group I am in now started this blog!! My reunion group sisters are the kind of friends who will support me, encourage me and jump in to help if I take on a commitment! They hear my confessions and keep my confidences. Through the years in reunion groups I have helped to plan congregational activities, organized small group Bible studies, participated in “crafty” projects (that one is a real stretch for me), and had fun in the process. Rightly lived, a reunion group becomes a Christian community affecting the world.
If you’re not in a group like this, don’t put it off, it’s too important. You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend; you don’t have to call it a reunion group; you don’t have to do things exactly as we do. The point is to find a group of others who want to direct their lives to Christ and grow in faith. Meet regularly, pray together, encourage one another, work together for Christ and hold each other accountable. In years to come you’ll look back and be amazed at what God has done through you and how you have grown in faith together.
I hope our readers and my sister bloggers will join in by discussing this further. Have you been in a reunion group (or a similar accountability group)? How did it impact your spiritual growth? I want to hear your stories.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us knot give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25
This isn’t on topic, but I came across it and really liked it. God should be with us all day long. We need him every hour!
n. pl. sym·bi·o·ses (-sēz)
1. Biology A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.
2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.
As a self professed introvert relationships sometimes seem to be a lot of hard work. I mean, do you know how emotional people can get!? Its exhausting, almost nobody just says:
‘Hey, You take a nap while I bring you some wine and dark chocolate.’
I suppose that would fall under number one of the symbiosis definition, and that wouldn’t be very fair. Definition number two, the one that says a relationship is of mutual benefit, is probably the better deal though.
While everyone has great capacity to be selfish, and lazy; absolutely no one was put on this earth solely to be served. Not even me. God’s own son (think about that) came not be served but to serve. Therefore, I can hardly expect someone else to leave me in introvert paradise, with only the occasional appearance of a loyal maid or butler. People, like it or not, need other people. We are designed that way.
Genisis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Side Note Ladies: By ‘man’ I’m including the meaning ‘man-kind’.
Sure it’s work to have and be in relationships, but that’s because we’re a fallen people in a flawed world. If everything were the way God first intended us to be, then the best part of our relationships today could be considered but a glimpse, a shadow of the reality it could have been. What I believe we can expect in heaven.
In the mean time, we just need to continue to drown our old selves in our baptismal waters and allow our Christ renewed selves to fill the relationships we have.
I was recently at a funeral where this poem was recited. It speaks to June’s theme about how to use our time and also this month’s theme of relationships (aren’t they, in the end the most important way to spend our time?) I can’t copy it, because the author requests that only the link be posted, but I hope you will follow the link, read the poem, and then let the Lutheran Ladies know how you are using your dash.
This morning, as part of my devotional time, I was reading from a book, When God Says “Wait”, by Elizabeth Laing Thompson (sidebar: I got this as a free Kindle book from Book Bub). This morning’s chapter discussed some of the unpleasant thoughts we have when we’re waiting; often we come to the conclusion that God is angry and is punishing us. Then the author makes a very good point: WE CAN’T READ GOD’S MIND! The Bible makes this very clear in the book of Isaiah:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
If you read closely, you’ll see that we’re not only incapable of reading God’s mind, when we try we’re almost certain to get it wrong — He just doesn’t think the way we do. So, what do we do when we want to know God’s will? When we want to know why some dreadful thing is happening to us? When we have questions about the purpose of our life?
I think we have to go back to a previous blog post I did, “Agree in the Lord, Example #1.” In that post, I talked about the fact that we can’t read the mind of other people — if we’re upset about something they said or did, the best course is to go and talk to them directly. The same holds true with God — when I don’t understand or don’t like something that’s going on in my life, I need to go and talk to Him about it. The most important way to do this is prayer: pray, pray, pray and then pray some more. It also means studying His word, because often that is how God speaks to me. It means attending worship — another opportunity to listen to His word through the readings, sermon and hymns.
Does this mean I’ll always get a quick and clear answer? Well, no. It does mean I’ll have a relationship with God. I’ll come to a better knowledge and understanding of His character. I’ll mature in wisdom and discernment. I’ll trust Him, even when I don’t know all the answers.
Have questions? Go to the primary source; go to God.
Do you have a relationship with God’s Word? If not, why not?
This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador and also reprinted with permission in The Lutheran Digest.
The book of Proverbs tells us:
A friend loves at all times.”
It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t want that kind of acceptance, isn’t it? Yet recent studies reveal that 25 percent of Americans have no close friends at all; another 19 percent have only one confidante (usually their spouse); and that these unfortunate trends have been increasing over the past 20 years.
A good friend can be an important element in our spiritual life and development. Now, by good friend I don’t mean the kind of friendly acquaintance with whom we share some common interests or activities. A true soul friend knows us and accepts us as we really are. We are honest and vulnerable with them. We trust them to hear our confessions and keep our confidences. They love us no matter what, and they always point us toward Jesus.
David found such a friend in Jonathan, who “helped him find strength in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16). One author says, these are the friends who make us “run hard after God.”
I have been blessed by a number of spiritual friendships, including a long-lasting relationship with my college roommate, Nancy. We don’t see each other very often because we are busy people who no longer share a room or go to classes together. We stay in touch by writing letters and sending emails. Once or twice a year, we meet at a church about midway between our homes.
We bring our lunch and eat together. We pray. We share our experiences. We talk openly about our families, our problems, our joys and our struggles. Nancy rarely tells me what she thinks I should do, Instead she asks me to consider what God would have me do.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Nancy sharpens my awareness of God. Meeting with her and writing to her becomes a spiritual practice, a life-giving activity that helps me notice how God is working in my life.
Some spiritual friendships, like my friendship with Nancy, just seem to evolve and deepen over time. When this happens, it’s a bit of God’s grace. Give thanks if you already have this blessing! However, we can also be intentional in our pursuit of sould friends.
If you do not have such a friend, pray about it and see who God brings across your path. You might start by asking someone you know and trust to become a prayer partner. Meet regularly, share concerns, pray with each other and for each other. You will be amazed to find your friendship drawing you closer to your true self, closer to other Christians, and closer to God.
We sang this song in church recently for some members who are moving. They’ve belonged to St. Paul’s for fifty years! This is a good reminder that relationships rooted n Christ never end.
Since I didn’t get any suggestions for an August theme, I decided to continue with another aspect of the unity theme: relationships. If we go back to the beginning of humankind, in the book of Genesis, we see that God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. These relationships were to be true unions meant to foster wholeness and health. When sin entered the world, all this changed. Adam becomes fearful of God and tries to avoid Him; He and Eve blame each other for the unfortunate state of affairs created by their misdeeds. Instead of wholeness, we find brokenness; instead of health, disease and death.
The Bible is a book about relationships: God and His people, men and wives, siblings, parents and children, teachers and students, kings and subjects. Feel free, ladies to explore all of them! How are your relationships going? What helps keep relationships strong? What hinders or hurts relationships? Can broken relationships be restored?
There are an unlimited number of ideas to discuss, and everyone is also free to go “off topic” as the Spirit leads. Happy blogging!