Monday, April 4, 2011

Each of Us a Shelter for Others

I haven't been moved by a song in such a profound way as the past few days.  "Shelter" by Jars of's more profound with every listen. "In the Shelter of each other, we will live, we will live..."  Check out the video on YouTube, here

Powerful spring thunderstorms set in this morning in the Midwest U.S., and they reflect relational storms and grief around us; a dear friend who lost her father recently, marital separations, ministry workers burning out and depressed and others headed that way, discord and uncertainty amidst longstanding friendships...

The hope expressed in "Shelter" is the prospect of living in the shelter of each others strength, grace, peace, hope, etc.

I harken back to "Miss" Norma at the Church picnic.  Her nephew Scott fell on the softball field in a collision at home plate.  He writhed in pain with a fractured arm...All Aunt Norma could do was to shelter him from the blazing sun; the bit of comfort she could offer, "This is one time Aunt Norma's size is a blessing!" she exclaimed. 

What are the God given attributes, gifts and skills and life experience you use to 'shelter' others?  Discernment, mercy, encouragement, compassion, graciousness?

A dear sister recently wrote on another of my blogs about transformation from despair about living to freedom and hope...she has been sheltered by the gifts and skills of her therapist, fasting and prayer of her husband, patient and gracious listening and burden bearing by true friends...and now she is offering to shelter others.  Just this morning she shared about making arrangements to invest time with another struggler on the journey. 

"In the shelter of each other we will live, we will live..."  This phrase is both proscriptive and descriptive; a declaration of the way some are deciding to live, in the shelter of live giving relationship with each other, AND an indication of the quality of abundant life by so living.

Are you in proximity to such shelter?  Or, if you are hungry for such, drop a note in the comments.  We are aware of more and more fellow and sister believers interested in such living.

love and blessings, Jeff

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life-Giving Fellowship

This blog will be about abundant life-giving relationship with God and each other (followers of Jesus Christ).  How do you do this?  How do you get alone with God to hear Him and to experience His love?  When is is best between you and other believers? What does it take for you to go below the surface to the real stuff of life?  Are you lonely in a crowd, or one of the rare ones who lives transparently in community with other Christians living in the room of Grace (John Lynch, True-Faced Message, click to download).  To what degree are you experiencing the "full-life" that Christ came to give in relationship with Him and other followers?

Ten years ago I asked a pastor I respected for some counsel in the midst of some spiritual turmoil in my life that had been set off and fueled in an unhealthy Church environment.  His memorable and wise counsel was this, "When Church becomes other than life-giving, you have to carefully analyze it to ask why, and then do something about it; either change yourself in the situation to find Christ, or change the situation to find Him.  Abundant relationship with Him is too important to be missed."

In the Bible the Church is clearly the Body of Christ, His followers in various locations.  In current nomenclature, The Church is a place we go to attend religious services and helpful programs, and to be with The Church (other believers).  Personally, I've stopped asking "Where do you go to Church?", and I have a hard time answering that question for the same reason; you can't go to something that you are.  I can go to a building to be with the Church, but I can't "go to church" anymore than I can go to Williams because I am already present wherever I am. 

I shared with a friend recently that Jill and I are hungry for fellowship with other followers of Jesus.  “We’d like to have opportunities to give and receive; both feel equally important.  We want to exercise our gifts for the good of others, but also to receive from God through their gifts."

Some of the fellowship* groups we’ve been a part of have been wonderful growing experiences!  Here are some memories that stand out:

-          Eating together and lingering at the table to enjoy relaxed sharing.
-          Telling and listening to each others life stories.
-          Worshiping with music (laptop w/ speakers or guitar/ piano)
-          Spontaneous prayer per burdens or crisis
-          Sharing scripture, and other reading that has been poignant and inspiring.
-          The Lord’s Supper
-          Each person with opportunity to share about their journey with the Lord
-          Shared leadership according to gifts, strengths and temperaments
-          Reference to the New Testament as an instruction for Body Life
-          Serving others according to their needs

*Reference Act 2:42-47, and I Corinthians 14:26 

Wayne Jacobsen says it like this, “Will people who are growing to know the Living God also desire real and meaningful connections with other believers? Absolutely! The call to the kingdom is not a call to isolation. Every person I've ever met who is thriving in the life of Jesus has a desire to share authentic fellowship with other believers. They realize that whatever they know of God's life is just in part, and only the fullest revelation of him is in the church. But sometimes that kind of fellowship is not easy to find. Periodically on this journey we may go through times when we can't seem to find any other believers who share our hunger…My favorite expression of body life is where a local group of people chooses to walk together for a bit of the journey by cultivating close friendships and learning how to listen to God together 

Where are you on the journey with God?  Have you found life-giving fellowship with Him and others?  If so, please share where and how.  Or maybe you are in search of this.  What is fueling your hunger?
On the journey, Jeff