Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Community of Love

You may have read my last four part email on drawing nearer to Jesus and leaving behind the life style and still find yourself struggling. This is normal for any person in their life in Christ. Although Jesus can miraculously heal you, often times He does not. This may seem hard to believe and somewhat harsh on the surface. Let me encourage you. There is joy in the journey.

Often times there are jewels, blessings, and nuggets of wisdom that we would miss if Jesus did heal everyone all the time the first time that they ask. Our relationship with Him is not about us but about Him. This is a hard concept for us to understand. Our purpose, our main purpose is to glorify God in Christ.

One other aspect that God worked in my life was providing for me a loving body of believers that I was able to share my struggles with. This is very important in helping you to be successful in moving closer to Him and leave behind behaviors that do not glorify Him or bless you. These women loved me when I made good choices and also bad choices. The point is that they always were willing to listen to me, pray with me, encourage me, and to shoot straight with me.

Now you cannot do this with everyone you know in the church that you attend. You need to find two or three people of the same sex who are able to do this with you. You can start by going to your pastor and asking for a few recommendations. Then you can connect with these folks and meet with them. You will need to be honest with them about what you are struggling with and what you need for them to do in this relationship. Then give them an opportunity to pray about being an accountability partner. If they are willing then you are well on your way. Some of the things that I had with my accountability partners were: regular prayer, I created specific requests for them to pray for, permission to contact them when I was becoming overwhelmed to help me through a tough moment, met with them regularly (weekly or bi weekly, and they had permission to call me on my stuff.

In a broader sense besides and beyond these accountability partners I also actively participated in the regular workings of my church. This helped me to be exposed to good encouraging relationships where I didn't feel like I was in a test tube. I was just another member of the church wanting to help out as my time and schedule allowed. I showed up on church work days, I helped in the nursery, I joined the church softball team, I went to potlucks, etc when they were open to the church. All these things contributed to my success in coming out of the life style.

At the time that all this was going on I didn't know any specific scriptures that said that this was good to do. Now after over 20 years being an active member of a church and studying the bible actively in my life I now know that the Holy Spirit was leading me into all of this because it is what the church is about. I can now share with you lots of scriptures that you can look up on your own to bless and encourage you (James 15:16, Galatians 6:1-2, Eph 4, etc).

I do want to leave you with one encouraging verse from Matthew 19:27-31 & Luke 18:28-30 & Mark 10:29-31.

Whatever you give up for the Lord, whatever life you leave for Him will be a sacrifice but you will gain 100 fold in this life and also gain eternal life but also bear in mind that you will also have persecutions.

Mark 10:29-31

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
"But many who are first will be last, and the last, first."

As you leave the life style with all it's ways you will discover a new life of relationships that you could not have imagined. This has been my personal experience. I have women and men who have become dear friends to me. I have and continue to have more people that are a blessing to me and I to them. All this because I was willing to answer the call of Jesus after two years of leaving all behind to follow Him. I do not regret one thing. Yes there has been persecution and continues to be especially as I continue to share the story of Jesus transforming power in my life.

I hope that you are encouraged even if you may also be frustrated with how long you have been struggling. Continue to listen to the Holy Spirits leadings in your life. The Lord bless you and I bless you. Amen

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