Tag Archives: Relationships

Heart-to-Heart Fellowship

It’s so good to be home, we both agreed.  Each of us, in different circumstances, transitioned in our careers and found ourselves working from home and being an everyday participant in our grandchildren’s lives.  Neither of us were planning for this outcome, but looking back we realized God had orchestrated this timing and as we talked, our appreciation for this special season of life increased.  Before we left we clasped hands and prayed thanking God for this time in our lives, for our friendship and gave Him some practical ” I-need-you-Lord-today” requests.

Matti

Matti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sweetness of Christian fellowship means that we can talk about the reality, struggle and heart aches in our lives and we can also bear witness to how God has turned around bad circumstances for good.  We share joy, we laugh.  We encourage each other and strengthen one another’s faith.  It is heart-to-heart.  Fellowship – true fellowship in which we are sharing about what Jesus is doing in our lives today, yesterday, and in this season.  Much more than visiting or socializing, fellowship is a precious bond that can be described in terms of spiritual chocolate – it’s just “the best.”  We are designed for relationships and fellowship fills us up to the brim.

Because God is love, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational and he identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son and Spirit. – Rick Warren

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God is active and working in our lives today.  By sharing what our Heavenly Father is doing, how we are responding, and what treasures we are finding in His Word, we speak on the level of “brothers and sisters”.  That special relationship we enjoy is worthy of celebration and thanks.  Fellowship is heart-to-heart.

 

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Filed under Fellowship, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Strained Relationships

Acceptance – there is a lot of thing in life we just have to accept, and things we should never accept.  Knowing the difference is the challenge.  This is true in many things including strained relationships.  Before my days leading a Celebrate Recovery the “Serenity Prayer” seemed a cliché.  Now, after having repeated every week for thirty-seven weeks, the words have sunk into my soul and I realize their incredible power.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

It’s that wisdom to know the difference – that is what keeps us on our knees.

English: Their are thousands of artworks creat...

English: Their are thousands of artworks created in the art world depicting St Paul. This painting was created by the famous artist called Rembrandt. It hangs on the walls of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many years ago my husband wrote an in-depth Bible study on the life of the Apostle Paul, and since then I have been especially captivated by the many human and God-inspired facets of this sinner turned saint.  Paul was indeed a “people person.”  Although many of his adventurous and dangerous ministry endeavors were circumstances he had to face alone, there were at the same time many close people in his life and they played some important roles.

Of particular interest is Paul’s relationship with Barnabas.  This was a close spiritual and destiny-joined relationship.  In Acts 13 the Holy Spirit spoke to a small group and said:

Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2b

Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul o...

Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul of Tarsus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re not just talking about two great believers who became friends.  God put them together and gave them a common destiny, a calling to accomplish in unison, a glorious partnership to complete a specific ministry.  And together they made tremendous strides for the gospel.

Consider some of the things which occurred in the relationship of Paul and Barnabas, and how these experiences have a bonding effect when people go through them together:

  • Road Trip!  Paul and Barnabas not only traveled together, they did so in a place and time where travel was primitive against today’s standards and time-consuming.  Think about some of the bonding that has taken place on family road trips, and why we tend to travel with those with whom we feel a closeness.
  • Common successes!  Paul and Barnabas worked together in boldly proclaiming the good news, and people listened and were converted.  Think of how a team grows together when they are working well together and they are on a winning streak.
  • Persecution!  Nothing brings two people together as much as having opposition.
  • Prayer!  Real, heart-felt prayer, and much of it is an intimate activity as two people join their souls in seeking the Almighty and clinging to His promises, direction and provision.
  • A Shared Goal!  Paul and Barnabas were passionate about the ministry God had entrusted to them.

Ponder what a deep spiritual relationship Paul and Barnabas enjoyed.

Until, they had a major disagreement.  That’s a polite word for an argument.

The two agreed to revisit all the cities where they previously preached.  Then, Barnabas suggested they bring along his cousin John Mark on the journey.  Paul didn’t like the idea.  He felt so strongly that the two agreed to separate – with both Paul and Barnabas choosing different traveling companions and they split.

The Expositors Bible Commentary explains the situation in these terms:

The fact that Luke does not gloss over the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas shows his honesty.  Yet far from letting the disagreement harm the outreach of the Gospel, God providentially used it to double the missionary force, with Barnabas taking Mark and returning to Cypress (cf. 13:4-12)…Paul’s selection of Silas to accompany him on his return visit to the churches was wise…Silas was a leader in the Jerusalem congregation.”    by Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III

Could it be that God would allow people of this spiritual stature and depth of relationship to disagree so that their effort might be “doubled”?  It’s a curious thought.  It is clear in later Scripture that Paul and Barnabas reconciled, and that is key.  The “Son of Encouragement” – Barnabas and the major writer of the New Testament certainly knew much about relationships.  Yet, they were human and at one point in time struggled with each other.

What can we learn from this incident in the lives of Paul and Barnabas?

  • Even the best of friends and ministry partners can have vastly different convictions.
  • As Luke reported the event honestly, it does no good to gloss over the incident just as if nothing had occurred.
  • If people are committed to not harming the outreach of the Gospel, God can use even these circumstances for the ultimate good and God’s glory.
  • If there is a strong disagreement and separation among such people, they are to keep working at reconciliation.  It is vital.

    Apostle Paul on St.Isaac cathedral (SPb)

    Apostle Paul on St.Isaac cathedral (SPb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relationships are mysterious, but God gives us examples in Scripture – some to imitate, and some to learn from and not repeat.  No one likes strained relationships, especially with people they love and respect.  Any ministry worker would look up to and seek to be like someone as a Paul or a Barnabas, human though they were.  Their example gives us hope when we are less than perfect, when we have strong convictions that we both think are God-inspired, and also the example of reconciliation at a later point on the journey.

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Loving the Prodigal(s) in Your Life – Part 1

There is a prodigal in your life.  It may be a son, a daughter, an adult grandchild, a brother, a sister, a husband, a wife or even your parent.  It may be another significant relationship.  You love this person tremendously.  This person knows wrong from right, or at least you thought they did at one time.  This person has chosen through a long series of decisions to move away from their former way of life which included things that you once admired about this person.  You worry about this person.  You have pleaded with him or her.  Nothing you have said seems to have had an impact.  You have prayed for this person daily.   It is very possible that this person once acknowledged a relationship with God and may have even accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.  However, at this time, talk of spiritual things make your prodigal bristle.  And one more thing about your prodigal.  They have broken your heart.

Author Jeff Lucas in Will Your Prodigal Come Home?  relates,

“A prodigal – someone who walks away from intimacy with God – doesn’t always become a drug or alcohol abuser, or a star player on the party circuit.  But probably every Christian on earth knows and grieves for someone whose life choices make a bleak declaration:  the good news of the gospel has not been good enough for them.”

The string of events in the life of your prodigal which have impacted you can become a personal litany of pain.  However, chances are that the life choices your prodigal has made has little to do with you.  There are things one cannot change in another person that one has to accept.  Forgiveness toward your prodigal is part of the journey of your healing.  A significant roadmark in forgiving is to develop compassion for that person who is so utterly lost.  They may not be lost eternally, but they most certainly have lost their way here on planet earth.  If we can feel a tenderheartedness towards that person, while they are yet still in their state of rebellion, we have begun to experience how God feels toward us.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Ways to pray for your prodigal:

  • Find a Bible verse that exemplifies your prodigal.  Repeat and pray that verse inserting your prodigal’s name into the verse.
  • Consider the potential in your prodigal if he or she surrendered their life to Christ.  What could that person be like and what kind of impact could they have on other people?  Pray toward that end.  Pray for what you know would please the heart of God.
  • Pray for yourself.  As God has allowed this painful chapter in your life, pray that God would mould your heart into someone that loves others as He does, and that He would give you both strength and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in dealing with your prodigal.

 

 

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