That’s What You Get for Loving Me

I seem to be on a kick of remembering old songs.  When I was in college, the one above was popular.  It’s about a scoundrel who tells all the girls, “if you love me, expect to be abandoned, broke and forgotten, because that’s just how I am!”  “Fair warning!”  (I’m not sure why I liked it, this guy is unbearably arrogant).  Anyway, it began bouncing around in my brain the other day, causing me to think about the many, better things we get for loving God.  I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list:

  • Someone who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Someone who will always listen (John 9:31)
  • Our daily needs and pleasure in our work (Ecclesiastes 3:23)
  • Wisdom (James 1:5)
  • Christian fellowship (1 John 1:7)
  • Fellowship with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • Spiritual gifts to serve the others (1 Corinthians 12:7)
  • The Holy Spirit, who encourages and comforts (Acts 5:32)
  • Forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9)
  • Salvation (6:23)
  • Eternal life (John 3:16)

If we’re willing, even eager to take a risk on loving a flawed human being, who will no doubt disappoint us, why wouldn’t we take a chance on God’s love?  We stand to gain all the things above and more.  Love and trust God, and see what you get for loving Him.

Where a Reborn Christian Belongs

I responded to our friend, “the smart blonde” on her blog, but I have also been mulling over what I could post her that goes along with our rebirth theme.  Like our fellow blogger, many people return from a Via de Cristo/Cursillo/Emmaus weekend excited, joyful and energized.  Over time these feelings fade.  Does that mean the experience is not valid?  Is it just a way to manipulate and deceive us?

Think about the apostle Peter’s experience of the transfiguration in Matthew 17.  Jesus takes Peter and a few others to a high mountain where they see him in a completely new way:

“…His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold , there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with Him.” Matthew 17:2-3

As amazing as this experience was, Peter and the others were not allowed to stay there forever.  They had to go back down to daily life where all the same struggles were waiting.  When Jesus was crucified, did they begin to wonder if their time on the mountain really meant anything?  They may have.  They certainly seemed to forget it pretty quickly.  Peter even denies Christ!  However, they had seen who Jesus really was, and in the end that causes some significant changes in them.

The big thing we experience on a weekend is loving, Christian fellowship.  We focus on Christ, thereby “renewing our minds” and we receive and give  unconditional love in an accepting community.  It gives us a taste of what the body of Christ should be.

A friend of mine once said the weekend is like a honeymoon, but persevering in the Christian life with the friends we make on that weekend is like marriage.  The honeymoon is wonderful and exciting and fun — but brief.  Marriage on the other hand, takes effort and commitment.  There are peaks and valleys.  But how satisfying it is to look back years later to see how we have grown and changed and accomplished so many things together.

So, getting back to my title, a reborn Christian belongs in the world and also in fellowship with other Christians.  You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend to do this.  But try to find a small group of Christian friends, meet regularly and be accountable about sharing your faith life and struggles.  It may be a prayer group, a Bible study group, a ministry team, a couples group.  Pray together, find ways to serve together, study together.  If you do these things you will find the message of the Via de Cristo weekend is still alive and working in your life.

How do others who have made this weekend feel?  What has helped you keep the mountain top experience alive?

 

Via de Cristo

I came home yesterday exhausted but renewed from spending the weekend with 50+ Christian sisters and a few brothers. The brothers that were there were Spiritual Leaders (pastors) from various churches and there was one brave soul who volunteered to be our tech person.  I’ve always loved getting away to be renewed this way and have done this (when I’m able) since 2001. My first weekend was a turning point in my life.

At that time I was married with two teenaged boys and working full time.  My husband was recovering from having a Grade 4 malignant brain tumor in 1999.  I was trying to manage his health, work, home and the boys.  I really wasn’t doing well mentally or spiritually.  I felt like a nervous breakdown was coming on all the time.  I went to our pastor to see if anyone in the congregation would be suitable to be a mentor for me since I was struggling so badly.  He sent me on a Via de Cristo (The Way of Christ) weekend instead.  I’m so glad he did.

The biggest, but not the only, thing that the weekend helped me with is that I am not alone.  I could take my burdens and give them to the Lord and he would guide my path.  Of course this is a learning process, but I had the tools I needed to continue on.  The neat thing is, I got a mentor, too!!

As the years have gone by I’ve served on these weekends providing support to other Christian women who come.  Every time we meet it is different; as different as the people who attend.  But the Lord is always there, wrapping us in His love.  We laugh, we cry, we sing, we praise His name..  we pray.  I come home fed (not with food, although food is there), full and relaxed.  The world has fallen away for 3 days while we go to the mountain of the Lord.

This year I feel strengthened in my determination to study, pray and write more.  I want to know Jesus more fully.  I want to know what He has in store for me, my direction.  I feel this direction will come to me as I study, pray and write.  Part of the writing is for this blog!

God Loves You and So Do I (GLYASDI)

Beth Ann

Be Transformed

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

Last month we talked about sacrifice, and this verse comes right after the one about being a “living sacrifice” to God.  I think that’s interesting.  When we present ourselves sacrificially to God, our minds are renewed and transformed.  We are able to better discern God’s will for our lives, instead of giving in to what the world tells us is right.

How does our mind become renewed?  Although we are reborn in our baptism, and justified with God through the sacrifice of Christ, our sanctification is a process in which we participate.  Renewal of our mind is part of our sanctification.  We learn to see things through the mind of Christ, we learn to do the things the Bible tells us are right, we have a different viewpoint than we had before.  There are many tools that may help us to “renew” our minds.  This past weekend some of my fellow bloggers were on a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekend.  I am hoping this week they will blog about how their weekend was a renewal and a transformation.

A Via de Cristo weekend is three days of concentration on the fundamentals of Christianity, concentrating on the teachings of Jesus Christ and how individual believers can influence the environment of their homes, communities and churches.  It is not just academic, there is much fellowship and singing;  there are times of worship.  Often participants come back feeling they have changed.

So, I am asking those who have attended a Via de Cristo weekend to send us your comments on how this experience renewed and transformed you.  (There are similar retreats in other denominations:  Cursillo, The Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dios )