Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm so glad I'm a part ..........

Come on, sing it with know the words.

.....................of the family of God

I spent last weekend at the first family camp my church has put on since I was a kid. With my girls in tow, I went despite scheduling conflicts and time pressures because I really felt the HS nudge. He pressed into me that being there would make a difference.

It's about rebuilding church family
It's a chance to be part of the seed of new growth

God knows I love to be part of something right in the middle. He has been telling me for 10 years now, if I want to be part of something good then stick with this church.

But I've got to tell you, the past 10 years has not looked good! We have been without a pastor for 3 of those years. Attendance is waning. People are listless. I was involved in women's ministry for a time but that has disbanded. And throughout this time I have been questioning whether or not I am on the same page as my church or even in the same book.

Did I hear you right Lord? Are you sure it's not time to move on?

I have inquired prophetically of the Lord twice with these questions. Both times he responded through the group with whom I was praying with a resounding YES!!!!

you are a warm ember
a season of perseverance.
the Kingdom of God was near.

Finally - this February, a pastor was found and he joined us this month. Everyone loves him, including me. He seems a perfect fit for our unified yet vastly diverse congregation.

So back to Family Camp......

Well first off, the Lord blessed us with divinely warm weather on this often rainy Victoria Day weekend. The atmosphere was welcoming and tenderhearted. We really needed this. It felt like a big sigh after a long struggle. As well, the Lord answered the desire of my heart that my children would get with some friends. It has been a struggle to get them involved and connected.

And lastly....the guest speaker chose to talk about Church Family. He focused on a word that is used much in the New Testament. Alellon - one another. I couldn't imagine a more appropriate message at this time.

I thought I would do a little study of my own and look up many of the ways that this word is used in the NT.

Bear with one another
Love one another
be at peace with one another
wash one another's feet.
Be devoted to one another
give preference to one another
Be of the same mind toward one another;
serve one another.
Bear one another's burdens
showing tolerance for one another
we are members of one another.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted
be subject to one another
regard one another as more important than yourselves
bearing with one another
encourage one another and build up one another
seek after that which is good for one another
stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
confess your sins to one another
clothe yourselves with humility toward one another

It occurs to me the high calling we have to make it work with one another. The Lord made us for spiritual community. It's not always easy and we have to be purposeful about it. We have to clothe ourselves with it.


Nate said...

I am happy that you have a pastor that looks to be pulling the family back together. That is great to hear. It really is.

Delirious said...

This is a great post! As Jesus said, " one another, as I have loved you." I think this is really what it is all about. It isn't so much about what we have accomplished as it is about how we give of ourselves to others. The ultimate spiritual gift is the pure love of Christ. If we can develop that, we will have truly succeeded.

Ruth said...

Hey Delirious - I was just writing to you on your blog when this came through.

"The ultimate spiritual gift is the pure love of Christ" - that's really beautiful - words to live by.

Valorosa said...

Wow I have experienced this once in my life. And circiumstances caused me to move away from this lovely congregation I was involved with. I he never found another like it since.

This must be a very special group to have hung together so well with out a pastor :-)

jennyhope said...

I meant to tell you the Bag balm works!
only with the holy spirit can I do any of that =)

Rob said...

Truly beautiful. Which church do you go to, btw? (The churches in Richmond, I knew; Surrey, not so much, because we were already settled in a church when we moved there.)

Happy said...

Late to the conversation, but Ruth, I loved that list you made of some of the places "one another" appears in the Book. It's a beautiful definition of love...

Lord, help us actually live that out... it can be so hard sometimes!! I'm glad you're a part of a church that kept working at it thru the tough times, and I'm so glad for you that your church family had a day when they could just breathe a sigh of relief for a minute and rest in a "we needed this" moment. God's rest is so good. :)

Potentially a rabbit trail question, maybe worth a separate post - but... what do you mean when you say you "inquired prophetically of the Lord?" just curious. :) you know i'm at least one foot in the prophetic camp, anyway - seen a lot, still wondering about a lot, figuring out how it all "works" (as if that were really possible..."He's not a *tame* lion...") :)

Ruth said...

Rob - you can check out my church here.

Happy - I like your questions, and this is a perfect place to discuss the prophetic. If you're like me you want details so this might be long. I'm no expert but I can share my genuine experience with you and anyone else who is followng along.

My experience has been with listening prayer. This is where we ask God questions and listen for answers. For the most part, my everyday walk with God involves hearing him in a variety of ways - impressions, nudges, circumstances, scripture that come alive, dreams, etc. Most Christians hear God in these ways. I know you certainly do Happy.

When I talk about inquiring prophetically - I mean that I get together with two or three others who will listen with me expecting to get an answer from the Lord. We each report what we got. Everything usually comes together to form a meaningful answer. Many times God gives each person a piece of the puzzle so it doesn't make sense until we each contribute in faith and put it together.

Most of my experience and teaching with this has come from Jesus Ministry International. It's hard to put into words briefly what they do but it involves using listening prayer to reveal heart issues, pray repentance and walk in freedom to do the ministry of Jesus. My sister went to their church in Tacoma and I went to some of the conferences. It was there that I first received clarification from the Lord about my church.

Last summer, just before I went to the conference I told the Lord that I needed clear direction about whether or not to leave my church. During the conference, I was in a workshop where we were learning about being teachable and we were supposed to ask God if there is something we are saying no to him about. So I got to be the guinea pig and that is when the group started to report things like.
"God is pleased with you he just wants you to be patient" and "You are a warm ember" and "you are in season of perseverance".

I knew right away that they were talking about my church and the question I had asked God before I came. He was telling me that I was about say no if I left my church and that he wanted me to stay there. I had already been thinking about the other churches that I might try out and had been pulling away from my own. This answer really stopped me in my tracks.

I skipped out of church all summer still wavering with this. When I went back in the fall, the youth pastor was preaching. He said that he knows it has been hard without a pastor for so long and we have lost some people. He said "we are in a season of perseverance". I tell you, my mouth dropped and my head started to swirl!! Then the pastor asked us to fill out a paper and drop it in the box at the door if we were willing to commit to persevering with the church. I have to be honest, if I had not gotten that very clear direction from God in the summer, I don't think I could have done it. But I left that day knowing, after dropping my name in the box, that I had said YES to God.

Does this give you a glimpse into how the prophetic can work? I have been part of this team approach many times and it is very beautiful how the Lord confirms himself through others with various gifting. Some people hear more clearly than others but I don't think we need to have a confirmed and proven gift of prophecy or knowledge to humbly inquire of the Lord and in faith expect an answer. I personally go into it with fear and trembling and am always so pleased and dismayed that it really works!!

I welcome anybody else to share their experience too.

Happy said...

Ruth, thank you SO much - both for answering the question, and for sharing your story! That is REALLY cool...

I've actually had very similar experiences - even recently... just on Monday at Torch, I was wrestling with a lot of doubt about something that I've been praying for very specifically and believe the Lord has specifically said a few things about - I was almost ready to just chuck the whole thing as a bit of insanity on my part, and then they played a video, and toward the end of the video, there was a Bible verse that spoke SO perfectly to the situation - it was incredibly meaningful, and God alone knew how that would speak to me. It was AMAZING. I wish I could tell you more than that - I will when I can - but it was such a sweet moment... a "thanks for understanding, and for reminding me about this, God" moment. :)

You are so blessed to have people with whom you can listen for God's voice. I know people who *would* do that, and I've even prayed with them, but we've never been so intentional about seeking God specifically like that, and just listening together. That's just really cool. Thanks for explaining. :)

Ruth said...

Happy - it's great that you recognized God's message to you. I find that when I look for his messages to me, I find it them everywhere. It's like a scavanger hunt!

Yes I am grateful for my group of people to do listening prayer with. It has taken us some time to get to this point where we are comfortable and things flow freely. You're right that you need to be intentional.

I suggest that you find a few people who want to be intentional and have some fun with it. Don't worry about getting something profound and dead on - that's just too much pressure. It's okay to practice with each other. Humility and honesty make us the most receptive.

We have had great success with this one: For each person ask the Lord why he is pleased with them. Each person then writes down any impressions, words, pictures, scripture, etc that they got. Then everyone shares their answer with the "guinea pig".

Usually, a theme develops and everything comes together. Often, something that seems trivial ends up being very meaningful to the person. God seems to give some kind of confirmation that it really is him. make sure you let the person keep the papers with what was written.

If anyone is worried that they are not really hearing from God - it's okay - they are still saying something nice about the person. It's still a blessing.

I have done this a few times with various groups and I have always gotten something dear to my heart.

As an example I asked the Lord why he is pleased with you. This is what I got.

"She pursues me"
"She is a ray of sunshine to those around her"
"Little bashful one"

"Pursuing God" - yes I would say that is true about you.
"Ray of sunshine" - you bet you are.
"Little bashful one" - I don't know - you tell me. Does that mean anything to you?

Maybe it's just a stab in the dark - but I hope it has blessed you.

Happy said...


does it ever... but i think i would rather tell you in a less public forum. can you email me? i'll put my email address in the next comment, and then if you would just delete it, that would be great. Thanks, Ruth!!! :)

what a cool idea. and THANK YOU for praying for me today. i can't wait to tell you... :)

Happy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ruth said...

That is so exciting! I am always amazed when it really does work!! But it does.

Mork said...

"one another "- it's called as you say a spiritual community. Great post!!! I have been blessed. Indeed I have, shalom.

Ruth said...

Hi Mork - welcome! I was just checking out your profile from the post we both commented on today. Glad to meet you.

Davida said...

ruth, i love the whole idea of community and the "one another" stuff, but honestly, terms like "church family" or "spiriual family" still strike fear in my heart. i don't know if they ever won't.

Ruth said...

Hi Davida - wow I was just reading your blog when your comment popped up. I realize that that happened with 2 other people on this post.

It is heartbreaking that so many people have been hurt by "church family". I have been more disallusioned than hurt. I feel that we are made for something more.I have experienced it in pockets. and have found the blogging community to be one of the more transparent spiritual communities.

Please come back some time.